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Show me what's behind your back

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Long grass waved in the breeze, oceanlike and thick, coating the rolling hills of the open plane. Blue skies glazed into pink and orange, the sun already hiding behind the horizon. The air, cool with movement, threaded its fingers through blonde locks, tangling curls and forcing slightly shaking hands to shield a shy, giggling face.

“No seriously, Lena. I need my hair tie. Give it back.” Kara whined. Her scrunched brow just visible behind a curtain of hair.

Lena grinned, hands clasped behind her as she took a step backwards. “Hair tie? What’s a hair tie? I have never seen such a thing in my life.” She couldn’t hide the laughter in her voice, mouth stretching into a smile as green eyes danced.

They stood on the top of a knoll, the kingdom of Krypton behind them and the wilderness before them. Training had finished for the day and dinner wasn’t for another hour yet. The duo had decided to go for a walk so that Kara could stretch out her aching body and Lena could tease her all the while. Still, Kara relished the comfort of linen clothes as it was much lighter than her full armour.

With more show than strictly necessary, Kara flipped her hair over her shoulder. The way the dying light caught gold made Lena lose her voice for a second. Her mouth weirdly dry at the sight, her tongue thick and stuck to the back of her teeth. She didn’t have time to dwell on the odd moment. All she caught was the determined look in blue eyes and, just like that, her playful nature was back.

“Never heard of a hair tie? Seriously? Show me what’s behind your back.”

Another step backwards. “I don’t think I shall.”

Kara held out an expectant hand, “come on, enough games. They’re expecting us back soon.”

Lena looked down at the weathered hand. Long fingers, neat and tidy yet slightly misshapen from labour, beckoned the return of stolen property. Lena looked back up at her companion’s expectant face, taking in the honest set of her jaw and the open, earnest expression.

With a clench of her fist, Lena turned and ran. The long grass swallowing her form and prompting a chase through the twilight.

 

--

 

“What happened to you?”

“Shut it, Winn.” Kara snatched the ale from his hand, ignoring his gasped protest.

A hefty arm slung over her shoulder, dislodging the tankard from her lips and spilling the drink down the front of her tunic. Winn snatched the drinking vessel from her hands as Kara glared at the tall man to her left.

“You made me spill my drink, James.”

“Oi, it was my drink.” Winn butted in. They ignored him.

“Did a family of birds move into your hair?”

“You know what, I have suddenly found the tavern disagreeable.”

“Oh, don’t be like that.”

“Goodnight boys, see you bright and early for training.”

She left to a chorus of groans.

 

--

 

“Yes, come in!”

Kara looked up from the parchment, wiping her hands on an ink soiled rag. Her room, small and full, was welcoming in the warm candle light. The flickering flame danced in its holder, throwing light across stone walls and highlighting the metal detailing of the door as it opened. In walked a scrawny lad of fifteen, his hair was cropped short and thus making it more brass than blonde. He walked like a cat, feet light, body lithe and Kara couldn’t help but smile.

“Radley, what can I do for you? How’s your mother?”

He grinned roguishly, “she’s doing much better, thank you. She promises to pay you back as soon as she’s able.”

Kara scoffed. “Nonsense. I was just doing my duty. Make sure you tell Mrs. Burt that the kingdom would be in a poor state without our best baker.”

Radley nodded enthusiastically, shoulders falling in relief. Kara’s heart sank a little. “Now, what’s the reason for your visit?”

Radley perked up, mouth forming an ‘oh’ as he reached behind his back and pulled out a letter from his satchel. He strode forward, placing the wax sealed parchment in the solid wooden desk. Kara saw her name written in looping script, a hand she was familiar with yet hadn’t seen in a while.

Plucking a coin from her desk drawer, she tossed it towards Radley. He caught it mid air with a chuckle. “You don’t have to pay me, Sir Danvers, The Lady Luthor has already paid the fee.”

Kara raised her brows. “She has?”

Radley nodded. “And the Lady said I had to get this to you quick smart. I was going to do it tomorrow, but coin is coin and it’s always a pleasure to see you.”

Kara laughed it off, waving the boy away. Radley left with a skip, happy with his extra pay. Kara waited for the door to close before she cut the wax seal of the letter. Unfolding it, she was greeted by a message short and urgent. Kara sprung from her chair, the legs skidding against the rug as she pulled her cloak off the back rest. Fastening it around her collar, she extinguished the candle and strode from her room.

Torchlit halls blurred into one another. The late hour meaning that the Kingdom was empty of conscious souls. Her leather boots thudded against the hay strewn cobblestone of the courtyard, fast steps allowing her to move quickly through barren streets.

Kara nodded to the occasional guard, feeling rude at not being able to stop and exchange pleasantries. It wasn’t long before she arrived at her intended destination- an abandoned farm near the outskirts of the kingdom limits. A family used to tend to the land here, but ever since the 50-day war the soil became barren. Too clogged with blood and souls to be of any use. All that was left of the plot was a twisted, gnarled Oak tree- the very landmark Lena asked her to meet under.

Kara approached swiftly, eyes accustomed to the dark of a new moon. It didn’t take long for her to spot the figure sitting on a low hanging branch, legs swinging in the still air. Pulling the cloak from her flaxen hair, Kara approached with reckless incautiousness.

“What happened? What’s wrong?” Words fell from fast lips as she looked over the other woman’s form.

Lena jumped from the tree, landing with a thud and pulling off her own hood. Kara stopped a foot away, hands wringing with the urge to do something that wasn’t the odd need to tuck a lock of midnight hair behind a pale ear.

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong.”

Kara’s hands dropped to her side. “Then why would you call me out here at this hour, Lady Lena?” The words ground at her teeth.

Lena’s heavy brows furrowed. “Lady? I see I must have angered you. Why would you think something is wrong?”

Kara huffed, walking forward towards the tree and leaning against the trunk. “Oh I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that you sending a letter with the words “Blood Oak, quickly” having something to do with it?”

A moment of silence.

“Okay, sure I can understand how that could be misconstrued.”

“You think?”

Lena’s head snapped up. Kara caught the gleam on defiant eyes and she glared right back. She could be home right now, finishing her work and then turning in for the night. Instead she was out here, in the cold and dark, engaged in verbal sparring with a woman who teased her mercilessly.

“Fine then, I am no longer in need of your services, Sir Danvers. You’re dismissed.” Lena turned heel and made to leave.

Kara’s stomach sank. She bounced forward and caught the arm of the Lady, pulling the shorter woman close. She heard a hitched breath and took it as her cue to speak. “I sorry for my attitude. It’s late, I’m tired and I all but ran here thinking that there was some type of trouble. I’ll stop jesting if you tell me why you called me here?”

Lena’s head nodded back, landing against Kara’s collar bone with a soft thump. Warmth spread through the knight’s chest, urging her arms to wrap around the Duke’s daughter and pull her closer. Lena sighed into the open air, humming under her breath at the familiarity of Kara.

“Remember when I stole your hair tie?”

Kara huffed in affirmation. “The one you lost weeks ago?”

A pause, “yes. Anyway, I made you a replacement.” Kara’s brows rose as she looked down at a full head of hair, “and sure it might not be as good as Alex’s because that woman is somehow good at everything, but I gave it my best shot and it works well enough.”

Kara’s warm hand was pried off a curved waist, and in her palm was deposited the gift. She clasped it delicately, releasing her captive from her embrace. Lena turned, face close and lips parted. Vulnerable. Kara was honoured.

Presenting the tie between her fingers, Kara raised a brow with a silent question. Lena rolled her eyes, took the gift, and Kara turned on spot.

She had never enjoyed the feeling of fingers in her hair so much.

 

--

 

Kara tugged her hardened leather gloves from exhausted hands. She could feel the sweat trailing down her back, soaking into her undershirt and marinating under her chainmail and plate armour. It was full suit training today, which, while necessary, was an absolute devil in the heat. Kara felt like a chicken in an oven under the blazing sun, baking slowly as she sparred with fellow knights in practice matches.

Training was routine- a way of life. Mornings were broken in with a run around the perimeter of the kingdom, then breakfast, followed by drills, then sparring, then a game of sorts (which often encouraged some healthy betting), and the day was finished by an afternoon meal. All neat, precise, and according to plan.

Today, however, was a little different. The general had woken them up later than usual. The sun was already seeping through curtained windows when heavy knuckles rapped against closed doors. Normally Kara would have been grateful for the sleep in- they were too few and far in between- but today held a feeling of trepidation. It wasn’t the weekend, so that could mean only one thing.

Full armour training.

As fast as possible (which wasn’t that fast at all), a squire helped her into her layers and armour, tightening braces and adjusting the familiar metal until it sat sturdy and mobile against her body. Kara couldn’t deny it, there was something about being encased in metal that gave her an air of confidence. It was almost like that world was at her fingertips, nothing could touch her with a skin made of steel.

That was until the drills started. Hours upon hours of running though untamed terrain, riding on horseback in different formations, various sword forms and uneven sparring matches. Kara’s legs had gone numb an odd two hours ago and her bones rang with an ache of colliding swords.

Her body was used to this, this was her life, but even today’s training had seemed more gruelling than usual. That made the final bell ring all the more sweeter. Exhausted cheers escaped scarred helmets, the knights more than happy to sheath their swords and hand them off to squires for cleaning.

Kara stuffed her gloves in the waistband of her skirting, hands eager to free her too warm face from its confines. Air never tasted so sweet, pulled in from a gaping mouth and blooming in starved lungs. Pulling the braided cord tie off a slightly jarred wrist, Kara scooped up her hair messily before tightening the chord.

The action pulled her thoughts from the present. The exhausted laughter of her peers faded into the background as her mind cast the image of a certain Lady with sable hair and forest eyes. Her mind was made. Kara ran to the barracks, threw her helmet onto her bundled bed and took off down a familiar path. The dull rub of metal on cloth and chain announced her presence as she bounded down stone pathways and through bustling alleys.

The Luthor estate stood loaming and righteous, joins met neatly, and the stone was stable with prestige. Garden staff looked up at the sceptical Kara was creating, but she didn’t care. No, instead her was a jaw set into a hard line as she knocked with three short raps. Rowan Walter, the house butler, opened with learnt promptness- his posture rod straight despite his age.

“Is the Lady in?”

He raised his bushy brows, used to the wildness that was the knight. “She’s having tea in the parlour.”

“Excellent. Thank you, Mr. Walter.” Kara patted his shoulder as she swept inside. The man straightened his coat, frowning at the childish display. Kara strode with purposeful steps, familiar with the house based on the many occasions she used to play here as a child.

Kara and Lena had grown up together. Lady Danvers- to which Kara was a ward and later, a daughter- was close friends with the late Luthor matriarch and thus prompted many an occasion that forced the two young girls to interact.

It wasn’t an easy start to friendship. Kara was awkward then (and arguably still is now). She was all long limbs and elbows, and Lena, well Lena was high strung and haughty. Where Kara was full smiles and handstands, Lena preferred books and pressed flowers to rowdy company. They’d grown into each other, social graces giving way to shared smiles and hushed laughter.

They’d become closer after Lady Luthor’s passing, both having lost a mother figure in the lovely woman.

Kara caught herself on the door frame, breath a little laboured but smiling nonetheless. She hardly needed to announce herself, her outfit did that for her, but Lena still took her time in placing her fine cup on its saucer. Neatly setting it on a carved table, it was only then that she looked up.

Kara opened her mouth in greeting, but her voice caught with the casting of gold into green eyes. Sunlight, honeyed with dust, cut through a perfectly placed window. The light pooling unto the room was perfect for basking and, well, Lena was making full use of the warmth. Unbeknownst to the scene she was creating, Lena lifted a singular, expectant brow. An intelligent gaze trailed up and down her guest, mouth quirking at the sight.

Kara flushed.

“Do I need to hide?”

“W-what?” Kara cleared her throat almost aggressively, “hide?”

“There must be a raid. I cannot think of any other scenario for you to be in full armour.”

Kara’s ears caught on fire.

Why did she come here again? Surely there was a reas- that’s right, she had no reason. All that made Kara run from the barracks, sweating like a pig in a wearable oven, was the sudden urge to see her friend.

In a panic, words spilled unbidden, thoughtless yet true. “Let’s go for a walk. No, a ride.”

Lena looked taken aback, her almost cocky demeanour fading into one of confusion. “Now? Surely you jest.”

“I, in fact, do not. I’ll meet you at your stables. Maybe change into some breeches?”

“But Kara, we only have one….”

It was too late, the knight had left noisily from the parlour and all Lena could do was shake her head, rise from her plush seat, and head towards her chambers.

 

--

 

Kara did not think this through. By God, did she not think this through. There was only one horse. One. Which, after a long day of training and sweating, meant that Kara was currently pressed firm and solid into one Lena of Luthor. The leather reins cut comfortably into her bare palms, both of which rested near the hips of the woman between her legs.

Mortimer, a fine steed by all accounts, trotted along amicably. His strong gait would be lulling if Kara was a single rider. Now, however, it had the unfortunate side effect of Kara’s pelvis rubbing against… well, it was best said that Kara didn’t seem to be coping too well. This had never been a problem before. She had shared many a ride with Lena but lately something had shifted between them. Kara didn’t know what it was and that made her nervous.

Lena had surprisingly gone along with the haphazard plan without so much as a question. Honestly, the Lady seemed to welcome the departure from routine (and Kara could help but puff up every time she caught sight of the slight upward curve of Lena’s lips). Time moved oddly, slow and fast, seemly non-linear in its pace. The ride to the edge of the forest felt cumbersome, and yet as soon as they hit the shade of the trees it was almost as if time itself was cut and stitched to the present. That is to say, Kara had almost not recollection of arriving at the lazy stream (which she knew was a sizeable distance into the forest).

(This was most certainly the result of Lena falling into a story she’d heard from a passing traveller. Kara didn’t even realise she had stopped steering poor Mortimer, so the horse had taken them to the stream of his own volition.

 Perhaps Kara’s smell was getting to him.)

Kara dismounted first, falling heavily onto plush grass. Holding out a hand, she looked expectantly at her companion. Lena turned her nose, grabbed the horn of the saddle and dismounted on her own volition. Kara’s hand fell uselessly to her side, eyes crinkling with a smile as she caught Lena’s cheeky smirk.

For as long as Kara had known her, Lena wasn’t one to take offered help. Or, at least, if she did it would be unwillingly (and she’d probably gripe about it the whole time). The Lady didn’t waste time tugging Mortimer’s reins and leading him to a nearby tree. Kara turned towards the water, taking in the environment and how different it was since the last time she was here.

Seasons were an odd occurrence, dictated by whichever God had the seat of power at the time. Rime, the ruler of Cold and Ice, had given his seat to Perennial, Father of warmth and flowers, a few days ago. That explained the cold nights and warm days, the mixture of cold and warmth always made such enjoyable weather. The sun was starting to regain its wakefulness this time of year after having recuperated under Rime’s watchful gaze. And, due to the Sun’s warm embrace, the landscape started to change.

The forest, like always, started to thrive under Perennial’s rule. Blossoms broke through root bound earth. Water, still cold but welcoming, broke free of frozen bindings to run trails into the land. Trees lost their blush, turning green again with youth, and animals awoke from long slumbers. From what Kara could see around her, the game this year would be bountiful.

She approached the water’s edge, flopping down onto the banks and digging her heels into the softer soil. Pulling at sprouting grass, she made a small pile atop her knee. The rhythmic motion of it was remarkably soothing, allowing her mind to wander further than the body she inhabited.

It definitely did not wonder far (which seemed to a common occurrence as of late). Kara closed her eyes, focusing on her hearing. She’d always been a little more sensitive to auditory cues than her fellow Knights- a fact that had saved her skin more times than she cared to count.

Footsteps shuffled behind her, the sound localised and idling. Mortimer stomped lightly to her left, his teeth clipping the grass neatly. Kara grew lost in the sounds of birds, the rustle of a playful wind, and the gurgle of lapping water.

Kara’s eyes snapped open, body twisting clunkily to look behind. “Don’t think you can sneak up on me.”

Lena huffed a laugh, shoulders rising and falling. She stood two feet away, eyes dancing and hands clasped behind her back. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Kara hummed disbelievingly. “Sure. There’s definitely another reason that you were tiptoeing towards me.”

“Oh, most certainly.” Lena nodded solemnly, brows frowning with how serious she was.

Kara chuckled, waving her off before turning back around. “Should I even ask what’s behind your back?”

Her answer came via soft hands on her mattered hair. She involuntarily leaned back, but Lena’s hands left as suddenly as they had arrived. Kara caught the groan that made it partway up her throat, but before she could question such a noise, she noticed a light presence resting on her head. With delicate fingers, she touched the foreign object, laughing when she recognised the familiar give of petals.

Lena plopped down beside her with a matching laugh and Kara couldn’t help but pull the soft woman into an embrace. Lena sagged against a strong shoulder, face nuzzled into a corded neck, the metal cool against a smooshed cheek. Kara couldn’t help but shuffled a little closer, sighing at the feel of a smile against her neck.

Closeness.

Her skin tingled with it, fingers aching to do something- to touch. Bringing a tentative grass stained hand up, Kara faux confidently placed it on an elegant knee. Lena shuffled closer, humming into Kara’s nape; warm air puffed against goosebumped flesh

Kara grew bolder.

With strong hands, she pulled Lena more into herself. Their legs tangled, interlocking at the knees as Kara slung an arm across broad shoulders. She had never felt like this before- unsettled yet content. It was like her very bones ached for something lost, the very muscles in her body missing something they never knew.

Birds sang, wind rustled, and Kara yearned.

They stayed like that for a while, wrapped up each other. The silence was light upon their shoulders, still in a world teeming with life. Or at least it was until Kara felt a grimace against her sensitive neck. She hummed in question.

Lena answered, hushed yet curtly, “oh it’s nothing,” a pause, “you just kind of stink.”

Kara flushed, face on fire as she quickly unbound herself. “Lena!” She dragged herself across the floor, brow so low she could see it. “Are you serious right now?”

The Luthor woman couldn’t hide her laugh, composure failing as she lay back into the grass. “Can you seriously not smell yourself? When was the last time you had a bath?”

“Last week!”

“That explains it.”

“Not all of us could be Ladies of Leisure, excuse you.”

Lena sputtered, sitting up with belligerence, “Leisure? Leisure?”

Kara swallowed her tongue, “Lena I’m so-”

“No! You don’t get to do this, Kara. You know exac-”

“I was out of line.” Kara cut in, jumping to her feet with heavy soles. She started tugging at the buckles of her vambraces, angry fingers fumbling with latches and fuelling an already stoked fire. “I know what you do, why you do things and who you do what with. Gods Lena,” She dropped the braces to the ground and quickly started on the couter, “I think I know you better than myself most days.”

She didn’t know where this was coming from. How could they go from being so close to this? Why did it feel like her chest was concaving and melting, as if there was a secret Kara had that she, herself, wasn’t privy to? Why was her vision blurring? Why wouldn’t these damn plates come off?

Tears cut clear trails through flushed skin, falling with the thud of metal and leather on grass. Everything felt so overwhelming, her breath shortening as teeth ground over minced words. She dropped to a knee, clumsy hands tugging at the buckles of her greaves. At the fourth useless tug, her hands were swept away and replaced by long, capable fingers.

When did Lena get so close?

Silence descended heavily, weighing on the burdened shoulders of a seemly strained friendship. It didn’t take long for Lena to remove all the armour, Kara trying to help but being brushed aside at every attempt. She eventually gave up, instead choosing to centre her breathing. The tears eventually stilled, eyes puffy but vision once again clear.

Now just in her chain mail, Lena stepped back with a sigh. Her head was bowed, shoulders stiff and hands wrung. Kara frowned, incensed at what she caused. In a swift movement, she pulled the chainmail over her head and dropped it alongside the ever-growing pile of armour.

Lena was right, she did smell ghastly.

“I’m sorry.”

Kara’s head snapped up, brows so high they almost met her hairline. She made to protest but Lena cut her off.

“No, don’t say anything you bloody knight. I am sorry I snarked at you. I’m just so used to people belittling me and my position that it’s become second nature to cut them down. It was wrong of me to do that to you. I know you speak in jest, Gods, that’s our thing.” Lena took a step closer and Kara fought the self-conscious urge to take a step back. “Everything you said is true for me too, Kara.” A soft hand met a rouged cheek, fingers splaying with familiarity, “sometimes I even question if we’re not two parts of a whole.”

Before Kara could do something as silly as kiss Lena’s palm, the hand dropped back to the side of its owner. Kara kicked her toe into soft earth, head ducking as she bit her bottom lip. She didn’t get time to be demur, however, because with no warning, Lena grabbed the bottom of her own riding tunic and pulled it over her head.

Kara’s eyes widen. She chocked on her tongue, made a strangled noise and turned heel in one motion. “What in Rime’s Ruling are you doing, Lena?”

Kara shut her eyes tightly but the image was burned into her mind. Skin, so much skin. So pale and soft and toucha- no. No, no, no. Lena was standing bare chested behind her and Kara was completely thrown for a loop.

“It’s warm and I want to go for a swim. I suggest you do too.”

Kara spluttered, “well, some warning would have been nice!”

Lena scoffed, the distinct sound of riding pants being kicked off punctuating the bizarre circumstances. “You’ve seen me naked before.”

Kara turned, steeling her shoulders and making sure her gaze remained… appropriate (that was much harder than Kara thought it would be).  “We were children then, Lena.”

All she got was a shrug before strong hands clasped around her arm and dragged her towards the water.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Kara shouted, body not protesting in the slightest.

“We’re going to get you clean.”

That was all the warning Kara got before she was shoved (and subsequently submerged) into the cold water.

--

A week. It had been a full week since the that fated ride and Kara still couldn’t stop thinking about it. They way the water tugged her down, it’s fingers clinging to the loose material of her under tunic and pants. The cold bit at her skin in welcome contrast to the fire that was her face. She had refused to look at Lena at all until her companion was adequately submerged into cool depths. Then, and only then, did she chance a glance over.

Lena wore the river well, a fact that made Kara envious and nervous all the same. Her hair was molten ink and wet, eyes as green as the canopy above, and cheeks flushed against the cool. They treaded water five feet apart, Kara comfortable with the distance but silently wishing the Lady would come closer.

Stretching, she was able to find purchase in the sediment, bare toes burying into the soft sludge. Feeling slightly bolder now that she was anchored, Kara grabbed the hem of her tunic. If the main purpose of this swim was to get clean, the only way to do so would be to strip- so strip she did.

It took effort to tug the thick material up and over her head, the fabric getting stuck around her face. There was a loud splash before helpful hands freed her from the claustrophobic prison. Kara breathed a sigh of relief, Lena tutting as she let the tunic float. Deft hands were quick to tug at the chords of Kara’s riding pants. The knight squawked, grabbing thin wrists and looking at Lena with bulging eyes.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

A smirk, “helping.” Her hands went back to work even under the confides of their fleshy shackles.

It wasn’t long before the waistband was sagging against toned hips, Kara weak to the woman playing her like a fiddle. She made quick work kicking them off, the article of clothing floating away with her dignity.

Lena stepped closer still, their bodies near enough that Kara could feel the heat of Lena’s skin against her own. She gulped, transfixed and settled in the stillness between them. She watched as delicate hands broke the surface, fingers slow in askance. Kara nodded, intelligent eyes catching the movement and understanding.

The first connection was soft, common and yet Kara felt giddy. Lena brushed idle hands against the swell of her shoulders, her skin prickling with excitement. Why was she excited? Well, Kara didn’t have a clue but all she knew was that she wanted more.

“More?”

She bit her lip, unaware her desire had been uttered aloud, but Lena pulled it from gnawing teeth. Kara’s eyes dropped half lidden, breath full as she leaned in closer.

“All you need to do is ask, my knight.”

Ask Kara did – non verbally but instead with strong hands on capable shoulders, rough palms sliding down a smooth back and the surety of a tug towards her.

Contact.

Lena gasped, Kara shivered and the water ceased between them.

“Knight Danvers! Come on or we’re going to leave without you!”

Kara snapped back to reality, arms flailing as she sat up quickly. She dashed to the basin, splashed water to her face and was out the door in a minute flat. The uncomfortable heat between her legs be damned.

 

--

 

“Winn, what’s behind your back?”

The short man grinned, his face squishing gremlishly. Kara rolled her eyes, temper weirdly short (she blamed it on the ale), and she made to turn.

“No, no wait a second, Kara.”

She huffed and turned back around, brows raised. To the other knight’s testament, he brushed off the attitude in favour of revealing his prize.

It was a jeweller’s tool set. Kara pulled him into a hug and accidently spilled drink down his back.

 

--

 

“Announcing His Majesty King Lar Gand of Daxam and His Highness Prince Mon-El of Daxam.”

The two royals dismounted from decorated steeds. King Lar Gand, a man of tall stature, was engulfed in his deep purple robe. He was thin shouldered for a ruler, his face kind and long, drawn from years of hardship and eyes hollowed from the recent loss of his wife.

In contrast, Prince Mon-El exuded a laid-back air. His grin was too wide, hands arcing as he made a show of handing his horse off to a squire, only then proceeding to run his fingers through his already perfect hair. He had forgone a travelling cape and instead was clad in a tight riding tunic, his pants not leaving much to the imagination.

Kara groaned quietly, already dreading the days to come as the Royals paid their visit. It had been a while since the Daxam Royals themselves had graced Krypton, choosing instead to send messengers and higher-ranking officials to deal with business. Kara could only assume their presence was due to the Queen’s demise. There would be in depth talks wiht regard to Daxam’s standing with Krypton and their allies.

From what little she did remember of Prince Mon-El, he was a showboat charmer that was a pain in Kara’s backside.

The knights, bowed as the royals walked past, ascending the steps into the castle itself. Heavy doors slammed shut and Kara breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone was quick to break formation, ambling away to return to their day to day life. Kara was set to return to the barracks, feet only slightly dragging at the thought of training when she was stopped by a hand to the shoulder.

Kara turned, eyebrows raised. Her expression settled into a smile at the sight of her Lady. “Aren’t you meant to be holding conference with the Royals, Lady Lena?”

The hand on her shoulder perked up to tap gently at her cheek before falling to Lena’s side. Kara reacted dramatically, sharing a laugh at the rolling of eyes. “Hardly. The Daxamites have requested a day to settle before any talks begin, so it appears I have some time to myself- for once.”

“For once?”

“Come off it.”

“But you’re always free when I come and drag you out the house.” Kara observed, looking smug.

Lena ducked her head. “That’s because I prefer your company to that of old tomes and scrolls, my Knight.”

Kara felt heat creep up her neck. “Is tha-” her voice cracked, she cleared her throat, “is that so?”

Surely Lena didn’t mean that. Kara was practically a nobody compared to the Lady’s social standing. By Rime’s rule, it was a miracle they’d even maintained a friendship so far into their adulthood. Twenty-two years was nothing to scoff at, and yet Kara still found herself shocked that Lena deemed her worthy enough to spend time with her. Time that Lena, apparently, didn’t have to spare.

“Lena, I’m so sorr-”

“None of that, Kara.” The knight was cut short, “We’re both grown women, we can make our own decisions. I like to spend time with you, that’s final. I don’t just give anyone full access to my house.”

Kara nodded, “I know, I know. Jess is the only other person that you allow in.”

“She is my Lady’s Maid, after all.”

“But sometimes it just catches me off guard that you, well, that you’d want to spend time with… me?”

Kara didn’t receive a response. A second, then two passed. She looked up, confused at the sudden silence.

Lena looked angry. The air had changed between them- tense and on the point of breaking. Green eyes hardened, pupils’ sharpened to pinpricks- focused. Lena’s jaw grew taut, the subtle flexing of her cheeks announced the grinding of her teeth. Lighting fast, a hand shot out and grab Kara’s own (she had fought the urge to deflect that attack in fear of hurting her companion).

With force, the knight was dragged from the courtyard and out into the kingdom itself. They walked through busy streets, store owners shouting their wares and prices, calling greetings to which Kara was hapless but to wave. Lena cut through the ebbing crowds like a knife peeling skin from a carcass, efficient and precise. In no time at all, they had reached the farming lands and it was only then that they slowed down.

Kara’s hand had long gone numb from Lena’s iron grip, but she didn’t say anything, choosing instead to revel in the closeness between them. They eventually reached the orchards, the trees tall and shady, pregnant and bearing full fruits. Lena let go and Kara pathetically reached out after her before she realised and brought her hand to her chest.

She always had the most confusing thoughts and feelings around Lena. It was like Kara couldn’t get enough of being in her presence, and yet when Lena so much as looks at her, or Gods forbid, smiles at her, Kara would like nothing more that for the ground to open up and swallow her. It never used to be like this and honestly, she was kind of getting sick of the feeling.

They walked through neat rows, Lena leading and Kara happy to follow.

“Isn’t there just something about nature that makes you feel centred?” Lena voice was soft but still carried in the quiet.

Kara nodded, forgetting that Lena couldn’t see her.

“Kara?”

She perked up, caught slightly off guard as she was busy admiring hanging fruits. “Yes, it does, just like you.” Her mouth clicked closed, eyes widening at the slip of her tongue. “Wait, I mean-”

Lena turned to look at the floundering knight, mouth open slightly and pupils inexplicably blown. “Do you mean that?”

Kara dug her heels into the ground, effectively halting their progression through the rows of trees. Lena, as if attached to her companion via an elastic band, rounded to walk back towards Kara.

“Yes.” The word was hushed in the quiet of observing trees, caught between the closing space between them. “And yet,” a pause, “somehow I always feel off balance around you.” Kara brought her hands up before her, fingers splayed as if she was holding her emotions in her palms. “And I don’t understand how it started or where it’s come from, but I almost have this yearning to be around you,” her hands clenched, fists shaking, “to be close and yet it scares me because we’ve never been like this, Lena.

“Why do I keep think-”

She was cut off by the sudden ache in her jaw, her mouth wedged open and brow furrowing at the sudden sweetness on her tongue. She bit down, hand grabbing the fruit that was shoved so unceremoniously into her mouth. Before she could question Lena’s actions, a large hand cupped her jaw and soft, soft lips pressed delicately to her cheek.

Kara sighed, the turbulence settling within her. The contact lingered, a warm breath puffing against her skin and Kara couldn’t help but close her eyes. She tilted her head just slightly, the drag of slightly chapped lips causing goosebumps to trail up her neck.

Lena drew back slightly and Kara took the opportunity to thread her unoccupied hand into thick hair. Beautiful eyes fluttered open and Kara couldn’t help but smile, tilting Lena’s head down and pressing her happiness into her Lady’s forehead.

“Did you have that apple behind your back the whole time?”

Lena nodded, stepping into Kara’s open body, her head finding a home in a waiting nape. “I’d been waiting for an opportunity to shove it into your mouth.”

“I’m glad you did, it tasted much better than my foot.”

Lena drew back, arms still circling a muscular waist as she laughed. Kara chuckled along, taking another bite smugly.

--

 

She fought the urge to lean against the stone wall, the torch to her right making her face unevenly warm. The talks had been going on for hours. It was a full room behind the wooden doors, the council sitting jury to the requests of foreign royals.

The guards were all adorned in light armour, comfortable enough to stand in for long periods of time but strong enough incase there was any danger. A short sword hung from her hip, the weight comforting and commonplace in Kara’s day to day life.

With relief, the raucous sound of scaping chairs heralded the end of Kara’s idling. The doors thudded open, a stream of bickering nobles pooling into the castle halls and spilling towards their rooms. Kara stood still, eyes jumping between faces in search for the one person she cared about.

Lena had grumbled for days about this meeting. Apparently the King and Prince were both arrogant and, whilst it was not a felony, it made conversing with either of them extremely taxing. Much to her amusement, Kara was witness to Lena pacing up and down her parlour, hands gesticulating wildly as her mouth ran off on rant after rant.

The only reprieve from the torrent of words would be when Jess would enter the room to refill the tea pot. They’d share cheeky glances behind Lena’s back, their affection for the Lady being a common link between them. Almost routinely, Lena would return to the table from whatever corner she paced herself into, pour a new cup of tea, deposit a soft kiss to the top of Kara’s head and then resume her one-sided bickering.

The casual… affection was new. Ever since the moment in the orchard a week ago, Lena had seemed closer. They hadn’t talk about Kara’s minor breakdown, but Kara knew almost intrinsically that Lena heard and understood. It had started with parting hugs. They had always hugged goodbye but now Lena seemed to pull her closer as if her life depended on it. Then it moved onto gentle touches, a stroke of the forearm, a trailing of fingers on the inside of the wrist. It was these touches that drove Kara to break and place a kiss to Lena’s bare cheek.

Since then their affection grew.

Lena was not a shy being by nature (the river incident was evidence enough), and yet there was always a slight blush on pale cheeks when Kara bestowed fondness. Oddly enough, the knight took pride in it. Kara enjoyed the softness of the other woman. Lena felt right in her arms, the way she folded into her taller frame, ducking her head under a martial chin as Kara hummed.

Gods, they had somehow become even closer friends.

Kara leant against the wall, sighing and resigning to the possibility that she had missed Lena in the sea of people. It wasn’t like they had made plans to meet up or anything, especially with Lena being occupied with the talks and Kara having more patrols than usual (she suspected that the General wanted to show off the defence force so the Daxamites wouldn’t get any funny ideas). That still didn’t stop Kara from hoping, however. Any time spent with her Lady was time always spent well.

The sound of leather soles against flag stone alerted Kara to a straggler. She new that gait, the surety in that walk. She perked up, almost bouncing off the wall in excitement, face splitting into a grin. Drawing herself to her full height and puffing her chest, Kara was ready to greet her companion.

Only, when Lena finally appeared through the doorway, Kara’s shoulders slumped with worry.

“My Lady, what’s wrong?”

Kara rushed to her side, hands outstretched and ready to soothe. Lena shook her head quickly and Kara’s hands fell to her side.

“Not here, my knight. Walls have ears in cavernous spaces.”

Kara understood immediately, she nodded her head towards the exit, turning swiftly and leading Lena out of the castle.  It wasn’t long before Kara closed the solid doors of her room. Lena strode in with all the confidence of familiarity, even though she hadn’t so much as been in the barracks itself before. Kara was quick to discard her armour, dropping piece by piece on the flag stone as Lena sat down on her bed.

Kara joined her, sitting probably closer than necessary, and swung an arm over broad shoulders. Lena curled into her, face warm against her neck and eyes blood shot and damp. They sat like that for a while, Kara allowing the silence to settle like a blanket- warm, safe and caring. It was only then that she’d dared ask.

The answer shocked her to the core.

“I’m being married off.”

Lena left that night with shaken breaths and in her place left a parchment rose. Kara picked it up with delicate fingers, tear stained face weary as she mused about Lena idly creating beauty from boredom. Did she make it before the news? Or after?

Was she thinking about Kara when she did?

Why did she hide it behind her back for so long?

Kara would never now. Instead she threw it into her desk draw, shutting it in the dark before sullenly falling into bed. She dreamt of raven hair, silken skin and a fallen crown.

 

--

 

“She’s gonna have to marry that, that douche!”

“Calm down Kara.”

“No, no you don’t understand James! He’s completely wrong for her.”

“How do you know?”

“Seriously Winn? Seriously? Lena is witty and, and kind, and so bloody smart it’s almost scary. Don’t even get me started on…”

“Okay, okay we get it. You got a hard on for the Lady.”

“A what?”

“… never mind, don’t worry.”

“Anyway… I was able to procure a session with the jeweller for this afternoon, it’ll help you take your mind off all this.”

“You’re the best Winn.”

“I know.”
“Oi.”

 

--

 

Kara dismounted swiftly, petting Amelia’s mane and hitching her to a post. Grabbing a handful of wheat from the saddle, she patted and feed the mighty stead. Amelia snorted happily. The outpost was a small place, nothing more then a lumbermill and a pub really, but it was everything Kara’s sister needed (apparently).

Kara swaggered into the tavern, chest puffed and shoulders squared. She liked to pretend to be tough, to present an almost super image of someone brave and heroic. The image fell as soon as she saw the silhouette of her sister sitting at the bar. She dashed on over, almost jumping onto the hunched form of the older Danvers.

Alex jumped in her seat, her tankard slamming against the bench and the sound of a painful gulp accenting their reunion. Alex didn’t miss a beat, turning in her seat and returning her sister’s all-encompassing hug.

“By Gods have I missed you Alex.”

Her sister laughed, the sound warm and homely. “In Hestest’s name, Kara I cannot believe you’re here! You didn’t send word?”

Kara withdrew, depositing a quick kiss to her sister’s cheek before plopping down on the neighbouring empty seat. Alex was quick to order another mead, the tankard sliding down the bench and landing solidly in Kara’s palm. They took a synchronised drink, sighing at the warmth sliding down parched throats.

“Sorry for dropping in unannounced, I had a free day and needed to see you.”

Alex lifted a brow. “Never apologise ya nut, I’m always happy to see you.” Another sip, “now what was it you wanted to see me about?”

Kara turned to her own drink, mulling over the brown liquid and catching a glimpse of her own furrowed brows. The small scar by one eyebrow deepened with her worry. (The blemish itself was due to an unfortunate bout of roughhousing with Alex near a pile of sticks. Honestly, Kara was just grateful it wasn’t her eye).

“Lena’s getting married.”

Alex placed her tankard down softly, wiping at her maw and turning to her sister. She didn’t say a word.

“She’s getting married to the Daxam Prince for some reason or another.” Kara tightened her grip and the wooden drinking vessel creaked, “it’s just, it’s just… Alex,” Kara turned to her sister, “she cried in my arms. This marriage is so wrong. The man is a child with beard and Lena is, well, she’s everything. I can’t let her do this. She’ll be chained in a loveless marriage, forced into child birth for heirs and become nothing more than the arm piece of a mediocre man.”

Alex sighed, “I think you have your answer then, Kara.”

“Wait, what?”

Alex took her little sister’s hands. “If you don’t want Lena to marry the Prince, then you’re going to have to find a way to prevent it.”

“But how?”

“Now that is the question.”

 

--

 

Kara loosened her shoulders, stretching her neck side to side before crouching low and jumping up, grabbing a branch and pulling herself up into the lower layers of a tall tree. Her muscles coiled, stretching and bunching with each branch scaled. She was fast, fluid in motion, the cover of night a shroud on her shoulders.

All too soon she found herself at the end of a sturdy branch. The wood was a bridge to her desired window. With a single knuckle, she rapped at the wooden shutter and only stopped at the sound of movement inside. With bated breath she waited. Footsteps drew nearer, the sound of a lock unlatching was loud in the night.

What she was not expecting was the distinctive ring of a sabre cutting sharply through thin air. Out of sheer reaction, Kara slipped off the branch, catching it strongly with her large hands before she could fall.

“Hold on! Lena, wait. It’s just me.” Kara whisper shouted, voice slightly strained with expended effort.

The brandishing blade halted its deadly dance. It was held in suspension for a second before returning into the abyss beyond the window. “Kara? Is that you?”

Kara hummed in response, swinging herself up and into view. She landed lightly on the branch. Strong hands grabbed her collar and hauled her bodily through the window and into the room. Kara gasped, falling to the floor on back, the wind getting knocked out her lungs.

“What in Rime’s reason do you think you’re doing scaring me half to death? Are you some thief in the night?” Lena placed the sword back on its wall mounted holder.

She was dressed in a sheer sleep gown, the fabric long and flowly. It was so thin that the moonlight highlighted Lena’s form through the material. Kara adverted her eyes. She rolled over, groaning quietly only to chuckle at Lena’s light scoff. Pulling herself into a plank, she did a push up or two just to show off before bouncing onto her feet.

She spun around just in time to catch Lena’s slack jaw, eyes slightly glazed. Shooting a wink, Kara unceremoniously dropped her cloak to the floor and trotted over to the luxurious bed. She flopped on wrinkled covers, humming at the lingering warmth of Lena’s once sleeping body.

The Lady in question walked over and curiously leant over the prone knight. Kara just wiggled her eyebrows, throwing a cheeky grin and petting the spot beside her. Lena rolled her eyes good naturedly and smoothly laid herself down next to Kara’s untidy form.

Kara snuck an arm under her companion, enjoying the shiver she was granted, and pulled her Lady closer. Lena snuggled in, body soft with the late (early?) hour and all too happy to rest. Rest she did not, however.

“Why the secrecy?”

Kara looked down at dark hair, going along with her urge to place a kiss against it. It was as soft as it looked. “Secrecy?”

Lena looked up, green met blue. “You literally climbed through my window, you creep.”

“More like you pulled me though.” Kara awkwardly chuckled, “Eager are we?”

That… that was the wrong thing to say. Lena’s eyes dropped to half lidden and the air became heavy, urgent and electrifying. Kara’s heart made a new home in her throat, her eyes growing, and pupils blown wanting to take in as much light as possible. The moonlight pooled from the open window, providing just enough luminesce for Kara to map out Lena’s strong features.

Lena was a dichotomy in human form. She was angled and soft, hard yet caring. Her heart was ten times too big and yet the armour she wore rivalled Kara’s own.

A gasp punctuated the quiet room, Kara’s jaw locking at the feel of large palms smoothing the fabric over her stomach. Lena maintained eye contact and Kara’s gaze, a slave to their tremulous depth, stayed locked. They got closer somehow, the sharing of body heat comfortable in light of the dying embers in the hearth. Kara flexed her arm, taking pride in the way Lena’s body gently bobbed with the swell of muscle. The motion lit a spark which ignited a series of actions too fast for Kara to compute.

The hand at her stomach gripped the loose tunic so tightly that the steams threatened to tear. Lena turned, her leg sliding over Kara’s strong hips to tangle with Kara’s own. Kara darted forward, knocking her head a little forcefully against Lena’s but neither spoke of the action. All they did was keep eye contact, their bodies answering the call to be closer, to tangle and not let go.

“I came here cause I needed to see you.”

Lena placed a kiss to a soft cheek, humming. “And now that you have, what will you do?”

Kara returned the action, ducking down to place a nip at a sharp jaw, Lena’s breath like music against her ear. “I have no plan. I never do when it comes to you.”

Lena chuckled, all hushed and croaky, “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” Kara leant in closer, “I never have a plan with you either.”

 

--

 

Raucous laughter was deafening in the warm tavern. Drink flowed, money changed hands in rounds of games, and unfunny words were met with the happiest of audiences. Spirits were… odd, everyone else was happy or somewhere close enough to fake it. But Kara, well Kara was happily seething with animosity. Her belly was full, her tankard was bottomless and her table was overflowing with friends.

So why was Kara so angry?

Just a table over, being surrounded by barmaids and immoral men alike was none other than the crown Prince of Daxam himself- and by his side, out of place and starkly sober, was none other than an uncomfortable Lena.

Kara took a sip of her drink, bearing her teeth as the alcohol entered her veins. Her Lady played the part well. Her doe eyes seldom left the Prince (but Kara caught the glances thrown in her direction). Her large, delicate hands brushed near his unworthy ones (but Kara saw how she avoided holding his hand by almost any means necessary). The game was afoot and all Kara could do was watch, learn, see what Lena’s life would be like when the marriage went through.

If it went through.

She chugged the rest of her drink, sauntered over to the bar keep and was quickly given another. Stupidity was quick to fill her bones with each mouthful and soon the tankard was refilled and her walk was more off balanced then appropriate.

With false courage, Kara made her way over to the charming Prince, pushing through the crowd until her knees hit the bench. The Prince looked up, his stupidly grinning face turning confused at the broodish knight before him.

“Can I help you, miss?”

A biting remark Kara off before she could answer, drawing the drunkard’s attention to the Lady of the hour, “How can we help you, Sir Danvers?”

The Prince raised his brows at the title, Kara held back a scoff. “I am here to escort Lady Luthor home for the evening, your Highness.”

“Oh?” He rubbed his pitiful beard. “Aren’t you a little… how should I say, inebriated to do your job, my good knight?”

Kara crossed her arm. “Hardly, your highness. I am cognisant and strong and that’s all I need.”

“Sir Danvers, it’s alright I-”

“I don’t think you’re capable, frankly.” The Prince cut Lena off, “you’re going to have to prove your capability to me otherwise my fiancé is not leaving my side until I am done.”

A silence fell throughout the tavern, every eye was on them. Kara almost growled, sitting heavily on the empty seat on front of her. “Normally I would ask for a duel,” she paused, cracking her knuckles, “but the hour is late and I want to get this over and done with. I propose an arm wrestle. I win, Lady Luthor gets to go home. If you win, she has to stay in the tavern but doesn’t have to be by your side unless she wants to.”

The Prince nodded, his stupid mouth pulling into a stupid smile, “I find these terms agreeable.”

They clasped hands, elbows rooted on the slightly sticky tabletop. An eager patron called out a count down. Kara felt herself tensing, her shoulders bunching with power and arms straining against the coarse fabric of her tunic.

Three.

She breathed deeply, mind shockingly clear with the surplus oxygen.

Two.

Her fingers flexed, her hand too warm in the tight grip.

One.

Kara looked the Prince dead in the eye.

“Go!”

A hand smashed against wood, drinks were spilt, and Kara dashed from the establishment with her Lady on her arm.

 

--

 

They barrelled through the door, footsteps loud and giggles bordering on obnoxious. Lena tried her best to quiet the happy knight, but the effort was for naught as Kara clumsily dragged Lena up the stairs. Good thing the Lady had sent her staff home for the night otherwise there would have been a riot from Rowan and cold glares from Jess in the morning- two things she’d rather live without.

Kara bounded into the room, skipping to candle holders and lighting the oil wicks with unsteady hands. Lena was quick to grab the flint, tutting at the unruly behaviour behind a secret smile. Kara didn’t seem to care, her attention pulled every which way and yet somehow focusing on one thing in particular:

Lena.

With now empty hands, Kara was quick to latch onto the other woman, fingers tangling in fabric until Lena was whisked away from the dim light and thrown, gently, onto the bed. A gasp stole from the noble woman, feather pillows cushioning her fall but doing nothing to prepare her for the weight of her best friend.

Kara, all unsteady gait and wandering hands, mounted the Luthor’s stomach, body warm from drink and the run over to Lena’s estate. Lena grabbed strong hips, eyes widening at their position, throat bobbing with sudden implication.

“What are you doing, Kara?”

Kara hummed, hands easing onto the mattress and locking Lena between strong palms. Blonde tresses hung awkwardly from a messy ponytail. Lena reached up, gentle fingers loosening the tie and grasping the gift she had given Kara so long ago.

There was no answer. Instead, lucid eyes tracked Lena’s hand, taking in all the details on a pale fist before Kara darted forward to place a kiss at a delicate wrist.

A heartbeat against pursed lips, a smile against goose bumped flesh, a sigh into a deep night.

Lena pulled the hair tie onto her wrist, urging Kara to move from the sensitive place and back into a position of normalcy. Or, well, as normal as their relationship ever was.

Lena gripped strong arms, fingers unable to encapsulate the mass of muscle found there. “I cannot believe you challenged a Prince.”

The knight scoffed, “of course, my Lady. I will rescue you from any foe, royalty, monster… or both.”

“Is that so?” Lena mused.

Kara nodded vigorously. “Your comfort means everything to me.”

Her eyes, wide in desperation, drew Lena in like fish to bait. Breath ceased in already starved lungs, teeth worried as a dry bottom lip and Lena wanted nothing more than to pull her companion on top of her. To run her hands up corded muscles, to feel Kara’s perfect body move above her, on top of her- in her.

She shifted, suddenly too warm under her layers of fabric. Kara pulled herself up to allow space, displacing the Lady’s hands and allowing the cold air to nest between them. Lena would have whined if her dignity allowed for it.

“My Gods, am I making you uncomfortable?”

Lena never moved so fast in her life. Long fingers grabbed an already abused collar, yanking Kara down into her and drawing an undignified “oof” out of both of them. Kara was heavy in a good way, solid and warm and close. Lena, a little drunk on the contact, took advantage and placed a kiss to a ruby ear.

Kara gasped and Lena hushed. “You have never made me loose comfort in my life, my flower knight. Your very presence soothes my aching bones.”

Kara nipped at her shoulder, face positioned expertly at Lena’s nape, blonde hair tickling at Lena’s chin. Lips brushed with formed words, breath hot and lethargic in the shared space.

“Must poetry always flow from your lips? Weakness is found in sweet words, my dear.”

Lena gritted her teeth, chuckle dying in her throat in favour of slithering a hand from the back of Kara’s neck and threading it into the roots of her hair. Another nip and Lena instinctively yanked, fisting the blonde locks with a sudden pull.

Kara’s head jerked back, mouth agape with a silent gasp. Lena let go as if struck, her hand rocketing off the knight so fast it would give songbirds a flight for their coins.

“I’m so sorry, Kara! I don’t know wh-”

“Again.”

Lena paused. “…What?”

Kara took Lena’s offending hand, unclenching the slightly shaky fist before threading it back into its previous position. All Lena could do was watch, equal parts fascinated and confused.

“Pull my hair, Lena.”

The gravelly voice was like a trigger to Lena’s nerves. Before she could compute the request, nay, the demand, her hand yanked and Kara moaned. That was all it took for Lena to pounce, her hands everywhere and anyway with little rhyme or reason. All the Lady knew was that she wanted to touch as much as she could. She had seen what lay under baggy tunics and plated armour and it was her utmost duty to release that image from its binding.

Kara was all too willing to comply. Her hands, fumbling but still fast, undid the corded lace of her shirt front, untying the garment and allowing Lena to grab the hem. With an approving nod from the knight, Lena pulled the tunic up and off her partner, throwing it into the abyss beyond their bed.

“Gods Kara, the celestials have favoured you.” Lena remarked, taking in the form before her.

Kara puffed her chest, displaying her upper half proudly. Prominent collar bones funnelled into robust pecs which acted as landings for handful sized breasts. Dusky pink nipples, matching in colour to eager lips, stood to attention under Lena’s gaze. Her eyes travelled further down, pupils somehow dilating further at the sight of relaxed abs.

Kara tensed, the muscles pulling taunt and revealing a structure akin to a washboard. Lena couldn’t help but touch- and touch she did. She traced the dips and raises of sunned skin, years of labour making it soft and elastic- malleable under Lena’s firm touch.

She leant forward, hands themselves unable to bestow the needed reverence for such a body. Thus, Lena kissed at the hollow of Kara’s throat, the knight arching her neck back and providing free realestate to be claimed. Lena dragged teeth up straining muscle, relishing at the mewls she felt beneath her lips.

She palmed a delightful breast, the flesh soft and perfect as if tailored to her hand. Kara arched at the pinch of a nipple and Lena smiled before suddenly taking in it’s twin between her lips. Fingers raked up a pale back, forcing Lena to curse the thick material of her gown.

The thought must have travelled between them, for not a second later Kara was loosening the corseted back. Lena leant a hand, pulling at ribbons and clasps until the dress was nothing more than material pooling awkwardly around her body.

Achingly, she detached herself from her newest obsession, grabbing the green velvet and hauling it over her head. Kara grabbed the clothing, placing it gently on the floor (Lena filed that information away for later), for before turning to look at her present.

The confidence of earlier held the Luthor woman in good stead. She was proud of her body, comfortable in her curves and fuller hips. Kara shared the sentiment, eyes raking over the new territory. Her mouth, like a gaping fish, floundered between open and closed, and Lena could almost see the thoughts racing behind blue eyes.

“Soft.”

Lena chuckled, husky and intimate, “How eloquent.”

Kara huffed a pout, tilting forward. Closer and closer until-

contact.

Kara pressed chest to chest, pushing Lena down, down, down until soft skin met soft covers and everything was soft, soft, soft. Rough hands traced smoothed curves, nails giving wake to gooseflesh and pulling keening whines out of dignified lips. Lena bit at an unguarded ear, forcing a sudden jerk from the body on top of hers. The room grew warmer, fingers were pilgrims in uncharted territory, looking for their Gods with reverence and exploration.

Tension coiled low in undulating bellies, liquid, hot and shared. Mouths seldom left skin, only breaking worship to mutter ineffable words or fail to supress sounds. Gods, there were so many sounds and that just drove the urge for more.

‘More’ materialised in the cupping of breasts in calloused hands, thumbs teasing and attentive followed by a hot mouth. ‘More’ progressed via blonde hair being pulled tight between strong fingers, dragging hisses from raw throats, the sound always morphing into pleadings and pleasure. ‘More’ only stopped at curious fingers toying with the cords of linen undergarments, anxious to cross a line that had long been crossed and forgotten.

They waited with nervous breath, lingering hands pregnant with implication. It was only with the slightest of nods did fingers dip below waistbands, hands grabbing the corded material and peeling away the last layer of secrecy.

Stillness.

They were both mature, well past puberty and fully come into their bodies. Hair, curly and thick grew protective and lush. Kara’s mouth went dry, eyes darting between inky curls and smooth thighs. Lena was in much the same boat, her fingers aching to touch wheat blonde hair, itching with the need to part lips and pleasure the woman she held most dear.

“Are you sure about this-”

Lena shut her knight’s stupid mouth with a kiss. Deities above, why hadn’t Kara kissed her before? Why hadn’t they been kissing this whole time? Sure it was hard, their teeth clacking together with the need to be consumed by the other but Lena’s heart jumped against her ribs. Kara grabbed at a sharp jaw, angling Lena’s head until they slotted together impossibly closer. She pressed a little too hard, hand slipping from a working jaw to press at a beautiful throat.

Lena groaned, body wired with the sudden pressure, a hand darting to stop Kara from revoking the action. The knight took it in stride, their bare bodies rolling into each other, skin sliding with heavy motions and need.

Kara released the pressure and Lena used the sweet air burning her lungs to shout, “just take me already, Kara!”

Who was a knight to deny service? Single-mindedly, warm fingers raked through black curls. Lena gasped, Kara swallowed, and strong fingers dipped into wet warmth.

There was no going back now.

 

--

 

Kara arose with the call of the morning rooster, dazed, cotton-headed and aching. The open window spilled light into the cold room, urging Kara to snuggle under the covers and huddle into the warmth beside her.

Drink was a fair-weather friend, a common thief of tomorrow’s happiness and yet the knight never learned her lesson. She burrowed down, closing her eyes, stretching her torso and relishing in the unfamiliar ache that resided in her muscles. She felt light, as if something base had shifted. It was like the world made sense all of a sudden and yet Kara was in the dark about the revelation.

Or at least she was until she realised that her legs were tangled with another’s. This bed was not her own, the warmth behind her was foreign but the hand that slid over her bare waist was all too familiar.

Lena.

She launched out of the bed, cold air against bare skin begging her to return to the warmth- to the safety of her best friend’s arms.

She did not.

 

--

Kara couldn’t look the Prince in the eye. Not when he invited her to join his hunt, not when he complimented her display of strength at the tavern, and especially not when he thanked her for getting his fiancé home safely. If she couldn’t even look him in the eye, then Kara was in no position to decline the offer of a hunt.

That’s how she found herself trudging through shrubbery, leather shoes quiet on the undergrowth. She wasn’t there to actually hunt, per se- that would be left up to the nobles. No, Kara’s main job was to guard the party from any ill that could befall them. This meant that she, whilst not close enough for conversation, was too close to one Lady in particular.

That one Lady which bed she vacated naught a day before.

Lady Lena rode astride on Mortimer, keeping pace with the Prince as they engaged in hushed conversation. Kara tired her hardest not to look, to not see the way Lena’s hips rolled or the strength in her thighs but human fallacy was in full force. Kara had remembered everything.

It was all she could think about. Every time her eyes closed, the image of Lena coming undone around her fingers greeted her. Every step she took pulled at bruises the Lady as gratuitously bestowed upon her. Every. Bloody. Thing. reminded Kara of the woman she ravished and who ravished her in turn. To make it worse, Lena was not subtle in her heated glances. So much so that the Prince himself would look over his shoulder from time to time.

Kara resolutely paid them no mind, instead her gaze was rooted to the ground, watching her footing and keeping her ears peeled for animals.

Crack.

Her head whipped up, the snapping of a stick catching her attention. She halted with a one two step, knees bent and body prime. Kara whistled, bringing the party to a halt quickly, fist raised in the air a clear signal to all parties. The Prince readied his crossbow and Lena notched an arrow into the longbow firm in her grasp. Kara pointed in the sound’s direction and all eyes looked on earnestly.

Silence.

And then the pull of a string, the snap of a bow and the flight of an arrow. The arrow hit true and a deer, writhing and weak, feel through the undergrowth, sparking a forest herd to run. The hunting party gave chase, voices loud and weapons violent as they disappeared into the green.

Lena stayed put.

It had been her arrow that broke the quiet and thus her game lay on the forest floor just yonder. Kara stayed with her, and suddenly they were alone. Just the two of them idling amongst green giants.

Lena dismounted, bow back on her back and Mortimer jostling slightly with the action. She made her way over to the dying animal, it’s wheezing loud amongst the birdsong. Kara follow behind, brow furrowed but not wanting to interrupt. Lena had never taken pleasure in killing, never hunted for surplus or trophy. She only took what was needed but the loss of life still beared on her.

Kara stopped a step away, behind and to the side, watching the Lady crouch over the deer with troubled eyes.

“What do you have behind your back?”

Kara startled with the question. Lena looked over her shoulder, an eyebrow raised and eyes so green it pierced into Kara’s soul. Without a word, Kara reached for the knife at the back of her belt, unsheathed it and handing it over to a waiting palm. Lena took it, fingers brushing Kara’s and gaze lingering for a second too long.

Kara gulped, bowing her head and listening to the quick prayer of gratitude before Lena slit the deer’s throat, letting it die peacefully. Only then did she pull out the arrow, discarding the useless projectile next to the body. Kara assisted in tying the carcass’ legs and, together, they hauled it up onto Mortimer. She wiped the knife blade on her sleeve, cleaning it before putting it away.

Now all that was left to do was wait and in true Lena fashion, it was not in silence.

“Why did you leave?”

Kara shoulders fell. “What do you me-”

“Don’t take me for a fool, Sir Danvers.” Lena cut her off, Kara wincing at the use of her title. “You’d just insult the both of us.”

She nodded solemnly, feeling stupid for even attempting to play dumb. Lena circumferenced Mortimer, bringing the both of them into the same space. Kara straightened her spine, standing tall, head strong and chin raised. She tried to be intimidating but Lena matched her pose for pose. Even though the height difference between them was substantial, Kara still felt small in her presence. Lena mastered words while Kara played with swords, she was at a loss in this battle.

“I’m going to ask again, why did you leave?” The words were softer than before, more hushed. It was as if Lena knew that trees talked and private conversations were best held in loud rooms.

Kara gulped. “I-” she cleared her throat, voice cracking and tongue becoming thick. “I panicked.”

That was the truth of it. Kara woke up yesterday morning, saw what she’d done and panicked.

Lena leant closer, head ducking a little until she could catch Kara’s eye. The knight fought the urge to look away, understanding the importance of openness now that they’d cracked this bucket of worms.

“You… panicked.” Lena repeated, deadpan.

Kara clenched her fists, words suddenly burning in her lungs at the need to defend her actions. “By Gods Lena, of course I panicked!” Spittle flew from her mouth, forcing her to wipe at her chin. “What did you expect me to do? I woke up that morning in the softest bed I’d ever been in, body aching with the activities of the night before and mind finally clear from the effects of drink.

“I awoke feeling like a Queen, I felt comfortable in my skin for once.” She gestured between them, “but then with the call of the morning rooster I realised that this couldn’t work-”

“Why can’t it work, Kara.” Lena took a step in closer, voice almost pleading. The words heavy with implication. “Why can’t this work? I can’t be the only one imagining this relationship between us. This bond we’ve forged through hard work and companionship? Gods, I know I’m not the only one, given your performance that night.”

 Kara blushed. “You’re engaged, Lena. What don’t you understand?”

“I don’t care about that. I don’t want to be engaged to him. I didn’t ask for it and no one asked me if I was okay with it.” Lena declared, jaw tight and a vein popping from her forehead. Her breath, loud and angry, hissed through unforgiving teeth. She spoke again, softer now, vulnerable, “I don’t want to throw away a life I worked so hard for just because a man I don’t care about declared it so.”

Kara stepped closer, the space between them so minimal that Lena was now forced to look up to her. She brought work hardened hands to cradle an angry face. Her own lips snarling, “I hate it.” Kara rubbed at the moisture welling in green eyes. Lena sniffled, turning her head and placing a kiss to scarred palms. Kara supressed a shudder, the action sparking a fire low in her belly.  “I hate how he gets to be the one to spend his life with you. I hate that he could just come in here, all high and mighty, and have the audacity to turn my whole world upside down.”

“You want to spend your life with me?”

The question was quiet, but Kara’s eyes widened. She hadn’t meant to let that slip, hadn’t known it was her desire until just now. She opened her mouth to speak but the words were never uttered.

Instead they jumped apart at the sounds of fanfare. The hunting party had returned and along with them brought Kara’s and Lena’s silence.

 

--

 

Kara shielded her eyes from the blinding molten metal. Under the watchful gaze of the jeweller, she poured her small crucible into the mould she desired, only wiping at her sweating brow once the metal was set to cool on a steel block. Her back ached from hunching, eyes blind from the bright glow of the smelt but she couldn’t help but feel accomplished.

The jeweller landed a heavy pat on her back. They shared smiles, both admiring the cooling metal before Kara ducked off to the adjacent room to grab the appropriate files. She had a plan now and hell was gonna pay if she didn’t see it through.

 

--

 

“Alex!”

Kara shouted, running down the street and enveloping her sister into a giant hug. The eldest Danvers returned it, arms tight and smiles pressed into cheeks. With one last squeezed, Kara deposited the now frazzled woman back onto the hay and cobblestone, Alex taking a second to catch her breath.

“I hadn’t expected you for another day or so.” Kara threw an arm over her sister’s shoulder, taking the bag out of her hands and prompting them to walk towards the tavern.

“I was allowed to leave a day earlier, Sam was able to cover at the infirmary for me.”

“Oh? And you trust Sam to be able to uphold the infirmary’s reputation?”

Alex corked her shoulder, “Don’t even try, you oaf. Sam was the one that reset your arm, if I remember clearly.”

Kara shuddered, her forearm suddenly aching with phantom pain. It paid to have a medical professional in the family, even better now that there were two.

They sauntered into the boozy establishment, paid for a room and hosted the bag up the stairs. The tavern rooms were nothing luxurious. It had a clean bed, a common bathroom and fresh water daily. Honestly, it was all Alex could ask for.

They were quick to vacate the small space, instead choosing to head down into the main establishment and find a table. Tables were aplenty, so they chose one near the barkeep and ordered the lunch special (which wasn’t really special since it was served every day for as long as Kara could remember). Food, hot and steaming, paused conversation in favour of chewing mouths and filling stomachs. Hot meals were always welcome, and they made their appreciation clear to M’gann, the owner of the fine establishment. With wine on the house, Alex finally relaxed into her seat and Kara slouched, hands playing with her cup.

“It’s already been another year.”

Kara thumbed at a splinter, pulling it off and flicking it in the room. She hummed, eyes downcast, head bobbing. They both took a sip, words lethargic and heavy, heralds of a reality Kara would love to forget.

 

--

 

The sky, stormy and threatening, swirled overhead in sympathy. Sisters stood shoulder to trembling shoulder, hands clasped, and heads bowed. Wind played at laced boots, grass a white noise to the silence.

They stood under the shade of an oak tree, it’s trunk thick and old- snarled with unforgiving age. Eliza Danvers was laid to rest here, under the very branches she loved so much. It was funny how life tended to carry on, moments waiting for no one as worlds shattered and changed forever.

Alex and Kara knew it was coming, they’d seen the grey of blonde hair, the wrinkles under tired eyes. They spent years watching their mother slow down until the bed became her world and sympathies were more common than greetings.

Age was a brutal murderer, unashamed and unaccounted for. It was natural and harsh in the way only nature could be and yet both Alex and Kara were grateful that their mother passed on peacefully.

Trees rustled overhead, Alex’s booted foot disturbing the earth as she walked forward to touch the gravestone. Kara stayed put, understanding the need for space and wanting her own in return. Rain opened with silent tears, fingers traced carved words and, eventually, footsteps walked down the hill, leaving a sorrow behind but still keeping a sadness within.

 

--

 

Kara inhaled, petrichor thick in the air and her back damp with wet grass. The storm had passed quickly, the rain momentary as if accompanying the two sisters in their visit. Kara was alone now. Alex had turned in for the night and Kara had let her.

She sighed, eyes misty with remembrance and glossy with the stars above. She didn’t move at the sound of footsteps approaching, didn’t acknowledge the companion laying down at her side. She only paid a glance when a warm hand enveloped her own before returning to look at the night sky.

“Mum loved the stars.”

The words sat above them, floating into a pinpricked void before Lena plucked them via response. “And baking.”

Kara hummed, a smile pulling at sullen lips. “I miss her cornbread.” Lena’s hand squeezed, “and those pies she’d make. I would kill for just one more bite.”

Lena shuffled a little closer and Kara didn’t care about the actions between them. Feelings be damned, Kara needed her best friend and she knew Lena needed her too.

“Do you remember when she’d cut us peaches as we’d play in the courtyard?”

“Yeah, the juice would always dribble down my chin and make my face sticky.”

“And then mother would pull out a handkerchief and tut as she cleaned you up.” Lena laughed, the sound hushed and full.

Kara turned to her, body folding into Lena’s warmth. Lena’s free hand rubbed up her back soothingly, the motion lulling and soft. “She always loved it when you called her mother. Her eyes would crinkle, and her head would tilt just so.”

Lena placed a kiss a Kara’s hairline, words brushing against her forehead. “She was a mother to me. She treated me like a daughter and that’s something I- I’ll never f-forget.”

Kara pulled her close, arms now wrapping fully around a trembling form. Warm tears rolled down wobbling lips, breath shaky and body small.

 

--

 

“She was the first person I told.”

Kara arched a brow. They lay side by side once again, bodies cooling in the night air but hands still grasped firmly. “Told what?”

“About my inclination towards women.”

“Oh.”

“She wrote me a later but kept it way, told me to read it when I knew it was time.”

“Did you read it?”

Lena shook her head.

 

--

 

Alex left on a blue-sky morning with a fierce hug and a threat that Kara needed to visit.

 

--

 

“Sir Danvers,” Kara stood to attention, head snapping up and back ramrod straight, “I’m in need of your services today.”

Kara fought the urge to scowl. “Of course, Prince Mon El, I am at your service.”

“Excellent,” the man child grinned. “I’m going shopping today and I’m in need of your expertise.”

Kara’s brows did furrow at that, face pulling at the chosen activity. The Prince started to walk out of the training yard, Kara following at his heels (it wouldn’t do to walk beside him, after all). They trailed into the kingdom, people parting at their presence and bowing in respect. Kara rolled her eyes, grabbing her cape and swishing it almost aggressively.

They meandered into the shopping district, store fronts open and owners proudly beckoning folks to check out their wares. The Prince, like the perfect consumer, trotted from shop to shop, stopping at every single one to have a cursory look at the offerings. Store owners almost tripped over themselves in greeting. Kara understood the need to appease the costumer to make a sale, but by Gods did it begin to grate on her nerves.

They’d entered the fifth store, this one slightly smaller than the rest and definitely more cluttered with all manner of things. They seemed to have everything ranging from small trinkets to decent gowns. Fabrics hung from mounted wooden beams and Kara decided to look around as the Prince entertained yet another fan.

As the blabbering faded into the background, Kara focused on an out of the way table filled with folded cloths and handkerchiefs. She thumbed the materials, holding it up to her face to inspect the craftsmanship. The stitching was sound, neat and nice. She picked up a red square, the raised embroidery was simple yet attractive in its geometry, the material soft to touch yet easy to hold.

Kara ran it through her fingers a few more times, enjoying the weight of it in her palm.

“Perfect. Lady Luthor would love that.”

Kara clenched her fist, the fabric pressing into the lines of her hand. She turned to the Prince, hiding the fact that he startled her. “Excuse me?”

“I said that would make the perfect gift for Lady Luthor.”

That’s when it clicked. The Prince had taken Kara out shopping because he wanted a present for Lena. The knight and Lady’s friendship was no secret, thus the Prince must have heard about it. Kara gulped, her collar becoming a touch hot. She hoped to the Gods that any other activities had not gotten out, her head would be on the line if that happened.

“Yes. Yes it would.” Kara smiled through gritted teeth, handing over the handkerchief and watching with defeat as it was bought.

“I’ll give it to the Lady so she can gift it to me as a favour for the upcoming tournament.”

Kara grumbled, following the man out the store. “So, you’ve essentially bought a gift for yourself.”

At that the Prince laughed, his head thrown back and belly rolling. Kara sighed.

 

--

 

“Radley, can you run this over to Lady Luthor?” Kara flipped a coin into a waiting palm, watching the young man dash off and into the crowd. With a resolute nod, she mounted her horse, kicked its flank and made her way into the woods.

The bubbling river greeted her a while later. Her heavy boots thudding against the soft grass as she jumped down, hitching her mount at a tree and stretching her back after the ride. If all had gone well, the letter would be in her Lady’s hands and hopefully, just hopefully, Lena would have followed the instruction. The demand. The request.

Kara shucked her tunic, throwing it onto the grass and shimmying out of her pants. There was a nervous freedom brought by being naked in a forest. Even more so with Kara’s own anxious nature about her body. Objectively she knew she wasn’t considered attractive. Round curves and rolls were more sought after in woman- the picture of fertility and bounty- but years of training and field work had eaten most of her extra fat.

Kara looked down at herself, lamenting a sigh at unblanketed abs, defined thighs, and strong calves. Sure, she was the only female knight in the kingdom (but not the first female knight), and sure she endured all sorts of slander from rageful opponents, but Kara had always clapped back twice as hard. She always fought hateful words with stoic silence and kind actions- choosing instead to lead by example than discipline with spite.

That didn’t mean that the words didn’t sting, that they didn’t mar her under her skin, maim a bleeding heart that was patched one too many times. Her jaw trembled, solitude a misery without company. She stepped into the cool, lapping water. The current swirling around her leg and leeching heat through her calloused skin.

As she stepped in deeper, the water rising further and further, Kara couldn’t help but think of the only person (other than Alex) that never looked at her oddly. Lena had always supported her ideas (within reason), had always been there to help Kara pick up the pieces of a shattered mask, sticking her proverbial armour together to face a knew day.

Gods, Lena had been there to help start the healing of weeping, invisible, war wounds inflicted on life’s battleground. Soft fingers had traced each groove of Kara’s muscular body and softer lips kissed at old wounds, stealing Kara’s breath and filling her with a yearning to return the favour.

That yearning filled her now, drove her to write a scarlet letter and send it without a care.

The water was just under her breasts now, the river at its full depth. Kara dipped below the surface, ears filling with the memories of water before she broke the surface again. She slicked back her unruly hair to the sound of a gasp.

Lena stood there, Mortimer at her side, and letter clutched fiercely in a clenched fist. Words were not needed, Lena was already shedding her riding clothes, boots falling in the grass without a care. Kara didn’t give her privacy- deeming it unimportant and useless in their knew appreciation of each other.

The move was cemented by Lena’s consistent eye contact, her bottom lip worried by gnawing teeth. Kara brought a hand up, sliding her wet palm over her damp breasts, teasing at nipples until they stood in proper greeting. Lena’s pupil’s dilated, lip forgotten with a suddenly slack jaw, legs already walking to the water’s edge.

Kara, like a siren to a sailor, waded over- devilish grin large and cheeky. She pulled the Lady in, the water slashing between their bodies as Kara wasted no time pulling her close. Lena gasped as the contact, but the sound was quickly swallowed by Kara’s impatient lips.

Lena moaned, hands alive and threading through damp blonde, pulling at the roots and manoeuvring Kara’s head for a better angle. The knight complied, pushing her large thigh between Lena’s open ones.

They gasped.

Warmth, viscus and needy painted across her skin with a steady rock of her hips. Kara bit at a strong jaw, Lena’s gasp loud in her ear.

“Who’s a good girl?”

A keening whine reverberated from Lena’s throat, Kara chuckling at the sound, chest puffing with pride at the accomplishment. She pawed a large hand down between their bodies, blunt finger singular in their focus.

“I want you to ride my fingers, my Lady. Can you do that for me?”

The nod against her shoulder was all she needed. With a wicked grin, Kara sunk herself into Lena’s need.

 

--

 

Kara played with raven locks, the strains wrapping around her fingers and curling in her palm. Their breaths had been caught long ago, their activities washed away in the stream sans the bruises on inner thighs and the scratches contouring aching backs.

The knight sighed happily, content and tired. Lena hummed in agreement, face serene and eyes closed. Grass soothed bare bodies, the blades almost ticklish but Kara honestly didn’t want to move. Her body felt lethargic, heavy with exertion and her forearms still burning with use.

Lena stretched and Kara darted forward, placing a kiss against her ribs before smiling into a soft belly. Heavy hands threaded through her damp hair, scratching at her nape and twirling baby hairs absently. Kara would have purred if she could.

“Not to be ungrateful,” Lena belly worked with the words forcing Kara’s head to bob slightly, “but I didn’t expect this… at all, really.”

Kara looked up, eyes growing serious, “I had some time to think about things.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, and certain events made me realise what exactly I could be giving up.”

Lena’s brow furrowed, “what events?”

Kara scooted up, pulling herself into a sitting position and hugging her legs to her body. “Oh, nothing… really.”

Lena quirked a brow, moving to leaning against an elbow. “Kara,” the knight looked over, gaze glancing down to look at hanging breasts before blushing and looking back up to an amused face. “My eyes are up here, darling.”

Kara spluttered.

“Anyway, in all seriousness, I had you rubbing off on my tongue naught a half hour ago- you can literally tell me anything.”

Kara groaned, flopping back onto the grass as she hid her blush behind large palms. “Why must you be so blunt?”

A hand traced a taunt stomach, fingers splaying over abs. “Because you look so pretty in red, my flower knight.” Fingertips brushed against curls, “now, are you going to tell me about these events?”

Kara dropped her hands, instead her fingers found purchase in the grass. Lena pressed a kiss to her collarbone and the words catching in the back of Kara’s throat. Lena’s lips traced down, teeth nipping a trail down her sternum, a tongue peaking out to stake a claim on already owned skin.

“Maybe you need some incentive, my dear.”

Kara nodded, head lolling. Lena sucked just above her navel, mouth hot and the captured skin aching. Simultaneously, her hand travelled further south, fingers dipping into mounting heat. One stroke, a second and Lena found the bundle of nerves she was looking for. Kara gasped, head thudding against the grass.

Lena drew tight circles, pressing harder with every rotation. Kara started to buck, hips seeking further pressure, but Lena was having none of it. No. Her free arm barred against Kara’s hips, holding the knight down as the Lady had her way.

Kara’s breathing grew high pitched, head thrashing to the side as eyelids fluttered. Lena placed a kiss to a hot cheek, coaxing Kara to look at her. Kara did, and Lena kissed her- mouth open and wide. Tongues greeted, teeth met and Lena gathered Kara’s aroused slick on her fingertips.

Her forearm burned with the punishing rhythm, but Kara was close, close, close.

“Shout my name, Kara.”

And shout Kara did. Nails dug into a porcelain back, face smashed against a heaving nape and yet fingers still circled, slower, more gentle. Lena brought Kara down from the high, her body a blanket, heavy and centring. Kara was grateful for it, the aftershocks still buzzing in her nerves.

Only once she caught her breath did she speak, “I had a dream.”

Lena hummed, the noise vibrating against Kara’s forehead.

“Last night, and you were in it.” A pause, “it started like this- with us entangled and content. But then it faded and suddenly you were gone. Just like that.” Kara placed a kiss to Lena’s shoulder, “and I searched and searched but you weren’t anywhere that I could see. It was only then that I realised, that I understood that you had left me. That the manchild Prince had taken you and I hadn’t saved you in time.”

Lena cooed, hands cradling her head and only then did Kara realised her face was wet with tears. When had she began crying? How was she this distraught over a hypothetical (or future reality, in this case).

“Kara, no Kara. You’re not going to lose me.”

“You can’t promise that.”

“I can because it’s true. I’m trying to figure a way out of this. We have time.

Kara pulled away, bloodshot eyes accusatory. “Do we, Lena? Do we? All we have is the tournament tomorrow and then the banquet the following day!” Kara punched the earth, anger coursing through once euphoric veins. “That’s two days! Two Rao’s damned days before you’re put in a carriage and carted across the border.”

Lena grabbed shaking shoulders, knuckles white with tension. “It will not happen, Kara.”

Kara took a shaky breath, “it will. It isn’t fair, I just realised I love you and now I’m going to lose you.”

“You love me?”

Kara looked up, eyes blue as the afternoon sky. The truth fortified her bones, her body still with the weight of her confession.

“I always have.”

 

--

 

“Alex! Sam!”

“Kara!”

The voices carried from the kitchen, echoing down the corridor. Kara hung her coat at the door, kicking off her boots and taking in the smells of a roast dinner. Once the door was locked, Kara walked into the home, arm crossed across her chest and smile stretched wide across her face. The home was neat if not old. A fire burned somewhere within- the warmth welcoming compared to the cooler day. Kara had left Lena at her homestead earlier that day knowing that she had a longish ride to sister’s home.

Alex had invited her to dinner when she had left the Kingdom. Kara, being ever the people pleaser, obviously agreed to meet up with her sister and sister in law. And sure, she didn't want to leave Lena by that riverbed, but Kara was one to always keep promises- it was her word and thus her bond. That, and Lena had all but slapped her horse into a run when the topic was brought up.

Honestly, Kara would be lying if she said she didn't need a nice hot meal. The food at the barracks often left one desiring something more comforting. Home cooked food simply could not be beat (thank the Gods that Sam was cooking).

As soon as she entered the kitchen, pots were abandoned and warm hugs enveloped her in a firm embrace. Kara greeted them with kiss and firm squeezes. The whine of the kettle cutting the long greeting short.

Without ask, Kara set the table. The roast, once done, sat beautifully on the slightly small wooden table. Alex cut slabs of meat- the very visual making Kara mouth salivate. Chatter floated over full plates, only stilted by chewing and sips of mulled wine. Kara relaxed, body easing in the comfort of her sister’s home.

Elbows brushed, jokes were struck, and the meal carried on. Everyone ate well past full. The wine loosened lips and merriment was golden in the air. Kara, slumped in her chair now, dribbled wine down her collar. With a grimace, she pawed at the stained material, undoing the lace so she could see the damage dealt.

“Kara, what’s that?”

Kara looked up at Sam dopily, brow furrowed. “What is what?” The words were slightly slurred, lips purplish from drink.

“That.” Sam pointed at a spot on her own neck for reference.

Kara slapped a hand to the location, mouth pinching with a small jolt of pain.

Wait. Hang on a second- no. No, surely not.

“Kara,” Alex leant across the table with scrutinising eyes, “is that a hickey?”

It surely was.

Kara squawked, shuffling so fast backwards that she fell off her chair. “No! Of course not. Don’t be silly Alex.”

Her sister’s eyes widened, and Sam started to snicker. “It totally is! By Gods Kara, who’s the lucky duck?”

“No one!” Kara panicked, fingers already doing their best to lace up her tunic. “Hickey? What’s a hickey? Don’t know her.”

Sam burst out laughing, hands clutching her stomach with the guffaw. Alex rose from the table and approached her sister with too sober steps. Kara scooted back further, cornering herself until her back bumped against the brick wall.

“Seriously, numb nut, you expect me to believe that?” The eldest Danvers chastised lightly with the shake of her head. “I know what a love bite looks like, I give them all th-”

“I really don’t need to know what you’re just about to say.” Kara cut her off, full body blush making her too warm in the smallish home.

Alex squatted before her, hands resting on knees and expression open. Kara looked into her sister’s brown eyes, catching the amusement swimming within. She deflated at the lack of judgement, feeling a little foolish for the overreaction. Honestly, she could have just passed the mark off as a bruise from training.

“Hey Kara,” Alex took a hand, fingers warm as her thumb brushed over blemished knuckles, “do they make you happy?”

Kara nodded without a thought, “Unbelievably so.”

“Well then, we’re both happy for you.” Sam chimed in over the rim of her goblet.

 

--

 

Kara rose before the rooster call. Mist, low hanging and thick, rolled across the kingdom, wafting over the training grounds with ill intent. Its presence would herald a hot day and Kara groaned at the very thought of it. Surely Hestest could let them have one day? Heat meant sweat and thirst and lethargy- all of which was negatives on a day like today.

Today was tournament day.

The barracks was already alive at the early hour, everyone starting their pre-match rituals. Kara sat up, the blanket pooling to her waist and revealing bare skin to the morning cool. She stifled a yawn, rubbing at her eyes and swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

Washing her face with yesterday’s water, she checked her teeth in her cracked mirror, finger combed her hair and tied it up with her hair tie. It didn’t take long to get dressed in her under armour, the clothing less baggy then her usual outfits.

Food was next. One perk of a tournament day was that the knights were served breakfast. A banquet of fresh fruits and dried meats sat proudly in the common room. Kara grabbed a wooden plate, yawning with her mouth closed as she took a bunch of grapes and some dried veal. With a tankard of watered-down wine, she slumped into a seat beside James.

The tall man looked to be in the same state she was in- tired and slightly grumpy. That tune did change as they started to eat. Their moods rose with the filling of their stomachs to the point that coherent conversation was achievable by their second round.

“You ready for today?”

Kara shrugged, “Ready as I’ll ever be. I could be take some of these contestants with a hand tied behind my back, if I’m being honest.”

James full belly laughed, the loud sound drawing more than a few glares. Kara couldn’t care less. “I don’t doubt it.” He agreed, “I’ve seen you out on the field. You’re absolutely terrifying.”

“Thanks, mate.”

“What events are you doing?” James asked around a bite of jerky.

“Nothing too crazy. Just the jousting, short sword round robin, and the mock battle. You?”

“Are you seriously doing three events?”

“… yeah?”

“You must be blessed by Rime.”

Kara whacked his arm, “Oi, I’m not crazy.”

“You definitely sound like you are.”

 

--

 

A squire fixed the strap on her shoulder guard, jostling it a few times to make sure it was secure. With a last look over, the young boy scurried out of the tent and Kara was left alone. The tournament was in full swing beyond the canvas walls. People from across the countryside had come to join in the battles and festivities, the kingdom up to the teeth with unfamiliar faces.

Kara would have loved it if she wasn’t so nervous. It was hard not to be whilst sitting in her jousting armour, her foot shaking with uncontained energy. Her personal lances where stowed on a weapons rack in the corner, each one displaying the Kryptonian colours and painted with the symbol of House Danvers.

Shadows danced across waxed canvas walls, children running after each other and people chatting and eating all sorts of tournament food. Kara rubbed at her face, lamenting her full stomach. She could really go for one of those honey pigeons right now.

The rustle of the tent door and the thump of footsteps alerted Kara to a visitor. She looked up, ready to scold the intruder but her mouth was quickly occupied with full lips. She closed her eyes with a ‘humph,’ pushing into a soft mouth and welcoming a warm tongue. She was left wanting with one last swipe against her front teeth.

She chased but was rudely stopped by one extended finger. With a cheeky kiss, she took the digit into her mouth- sucking it from the second knuckle. It was pulled out with a ‘pop,’ her own saliva smearing across her chin as a large hand cupped her jaw. One more kiss and only then did her companion finally take a step back.

“What a greeting.” Kara husked, clearing her throat.

Lena laughed, “I couldn’t help it. You look like you needed a ‘pick me up.’”

“Please, don’t help yourself more often.” A smirk, “what brings you here though? Shouldn’t you be in the stands?”

Lena was dressed to kill. A purple velvet dress was draped over her body beautifully. Long sleeves accented her constant gestures, jewels winked in the sunlight and golden trim begged to be touched.

“I came to wish you luck. The jousting is to start soon.” She hid a hand behind her back.

Kara caught the odd movement. “Show me what’s behind your back, please?”

Lena smiled, shrugging her shoulders and revealing the item without protest. Kara’s eyes widened, mouth falling open. There, held in an elegant hand, was an all too familiar handkerchief. “A favour, to wear on your sleeve.”

“Lena, I can’t possibly take that.”

“And why not?”

“Because the Prince gave you that as a gift, Lena. You would be giving me your heart to wear on my sleeve.”

Lena grabbed her arm anyway, tying the cloth securely just above her elbow. Kara’s own heart jumped at the gesture, understanding it for what it was.

“He can be jealous all he wants, my dear. Wear my heart on your sleeve proudly.” A pause, “Hang on, how do you know this was a gift?”

Kara rubbed the back of her neck, shoulders rising. “He used me to help buy a gift for you. He didn’t tell me though until after I picked up the handkerchief.”

Lena grinned, “no wonder I liked it- it was a gift from you.” She secured the knot, patting an armoured bicep. “Every other attempt has been… less than fruitful.”

“Oh, do tell.”

“Well, there was a sad attempt at ser-”

The tent flaps burst open, a flurry of red hair and broad shoulders hunkering into the space. Kara stood, smile stretching wide.

“Alex! You came!”

Lena beat her to the hug, pulling the medic into generous arms.

“Lena, I didn’t expect you here.”

“I was just wishing this one,” a nudge of the elbow, “good luck. I’ll see you both out there then.”

With that, she flicked the tent flaps open, bright sunlight swallowing her whole. Alex wasted no time hugging her little sister, the embrace a little awkward with all the armour between them. “Of course I came, you dummy. I have to make sure you don’t get killed.”

“Oi.”

“And what’s this?” Alex touched the red material on her arm, “a favour aye? Let me guess, it’s from your bed partner.”

“Alex!”

“Ha, so I was right! Do I get to meet him?”

“N-No, you don’t! End of discussion, now go find a seat. The event should be starting soon.” Kara pushed her sister out the tent, Alex digging her heels into the dirt jokingly.

 

--

 

The helmet sat stiflingly around her head, the visor up as she readied her horse. The Amelia stood powerful between her legs, hooves stamping the dirt with pent up energy. Kara patted her mane, gloves thick and unfeeling.

Inhale, exhale. One, two.

The crowd was loud, the stands full of rowdy peasants and nobles alike. Banners of both Krypton and Daxam fluttered in the wind, the two respective Kings sitting side by side in a shaded box. Kara spied Lena there too. She looked uncomfortable perched on her wooden throne, mouth pursed and eyes troubled. The Prince was seated next to her, hands flailing and mouth motoring with useless words.

Kara huffed, flipping her face visor down and taking her lance from a squire. She bounced the weapon in her hand, getting used to the weight. Her opponent approached the fence and  Kara’s hands clenched around leather reigns.

The other knight was unremarkable, smaller in stature than herself and arms trembling. A match was a match, however, so Kara routinely readied herself for the call. She secured her lance under her arm, shoulders set and neck hiding behind her jousting neck guard.

“On your marks!”

They both trotted to the marked lines in the sand, Amelia’s side almost hugging the fence.

“Get ready!”

Kara leant forward a little, legs getting ready to dig into the flank of her mare.

“Go!”

And they were off- faster than bats out of hell. Amelia grunted with each pant, her heavy body powerful as she propelled them forward. Kara bent further, shifting her centre of balance and bracing for impact- her lance angled towards her opponent’s chest.

SMASH

Wood splinted like bastardised snow, Kara’s lance hitting true and forcing her opponent off their steed. The other knight fell to the floor in a heap as Kara zoomed past. She slowed her mare down, patting her neck and praising her performance. Kara was quick to pass off the used lance, dismounting and running back onto the track at the behest of her arena crew.

Vaulting the fence, Kara pulled  the visor up on the other knight. The face of a young boy greeted her. He could be no more than sixteen. His breath was laboured but his eyes seemed focused. That was a good sign.

“How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve just lost in a jousting tournament.”

Kara huffed a laugh, “humour, that’s a good sign. The medic is on his way.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout me,” he coughed, “I’ve had worse.”

Kara didn’t doubt it.

 

--

 

Her next opponent went much the same way. Her lance hit his shoulder, whipping him out the saddle. His foot, however, got caught in a stirrup and his body was dragged through the dirt- the horse spooked and wild. Kara hoped he was alright.

Her next, and last, opponent was a brute in stature. Armour- a tarnished silver- gleamed with dull malice, a bright red plume atop their helmet was showboating for the crowd. Kara locked her jaw, understanding that the much larger body would be hard to knock off.

The long lance was held properly in her grip, firm at her side.

“On your marks!”

Amelia neighed, stomping a foot and nodding her head. The large knight’s horse responded with a whinny, shaking its head side to side.

“Get set!”

Inhale. One, two, three. Exhale.

“Go!”

They launched, Kara’s horse leaping into full gallop. Kara yelled, tension too much to hold in her body.

Wood punched her in the shoulder, splinters showering the turned sand. She jerked backwards, dropping her own broken lance but was able to stay in her saddle. Her hand white knuckled on the horn, body dangerously dangling to the side.

Her horse, by virtue alone, brought her safely to the end of the track. The squire and a peasant helped her off the horse, assisting and supporting Kara until she found her balance. Her shoulder felt like it was on fire. It was a direct hit to the joint, her nerves sparking with confusion.

“And the winner of the joust is…”

Her head snapped up, eyes focusing on the announcer. A headache came in full force and thus made it hard to concentrate.

“Sir Kara of House Danvers!”

Her jaw fell to the floor, head whipping to gaze to her opponent. Her eyes widened at the sight. The helmet lay in the sand, red feathers still floating to the ground.

Oh Gods.

She had hit his face. Oh god, oh god.

A stretcher ran in from the medic tent but Kara couldn’t see what was happening. Hands grabbed her shoulder and pushed her towards a makeshift stage. Kara tried to wriggle out, but before she knew it, her feet hit the wood and the announcer was taking her hand.

He lifted it loftily above her head, the crowd cheering with the show. Kara pulled a pained smile, her shoulder not feeling right and her body aching. Despite it all, she looked to the stands, eyes already focusing on her Lady.

Lena was standing, knuckles so white Kara could see them from all the way over here. Her face looked grey but the expression quickly changed via a nudge from one Prince. She politely clapped, but Kara could feel her worry.

She was swiftly ushered back to her tent, legs still a little wobblily- not that her attendant cared. After being almost shoved into her tent, a squire came in to assist her in taking off her armour. The large pieces were taken off with care. All damaged plates were put into a pile to be sent off to the blacksmith for rehammering.

Kara flinched when the squire loosened her shoulder brace. Her pain doubling with the lack of pressure and causing her to grit her teeth. She must have done well with hiding her torment, for the squire went about his business in a quick and efficient manner.

As he left, Alex breezed in all worried and big sisterly. She took one look at Kara’s face and ordered her to sit on the hard bed. Kara, knowing that look, complied without a word. She did, however, whimper at the action of sitting, the muscles in her back pulling at her shoulder.

Alex tutted, grabbing Kara’s under-armour tunic and hefting it over her sister’s head. Kara shouted, her shoulder on fire with the rough action. Alex gasped at the revealed skin.

“Rime’s rule, Kara. He really did a number on you, huh?”

She just grunted in affirmation.

Kara chanced a glance over. Her skin was already blackening, a bruise like a snowflake emanated from her shoulder joint. She fought the urge to poke it, knowing that Alex would slap her hand away anyway.

“I can’t really do much besides applying a cooling balm and strapping it.”

“That’s better than nothing.”

Alex did just that. A concoction of mushed leaves, powder and some odd sent was pasted across her injury. Alex took a linen bandage, strapping it around her body and securing her shoulder in place. Kara grunted with the pulling, but Alex just slapped her (lightly) upside the head.

“Sometimes I really hate what you do.”

“Thanks sis.”

“Don’t take that tone with me.”

Kara grumbled.

“And you better not be doing the other events.”

Kara just looked away.

 

--

 

She was in a set of hard leather armour now, her shoulder feeling much more secure under the strapping. Alex had left in a huff earlier. She’d been unsuccessful is dissuading Kara from further participation.

The knight was having none of it- it was a matter of honour now. Lena had given her her favour- her token- and Kara was going to do good by it. She wouldn’t fail in front of the likes of Prince Mon-El.

With a stiff body, she rose and walked to the tournament field. It was time for the round robin. Her short sword dangled from her hide, her shield affixed for her left forearm as she went to read the match draws.

Names were displayed on a large wooden board. Lines of yarn connected the battling pairs- four fights for the first round, then two fights for the second and, obviously, one fight for the finale. Kara weaved through the crowd, pushing other knights gently aside until she stood face to face with the announcement board. Tracing the red dyed yarn hooked to her name plate, she followed it with nervous eyes.

Relief settled as she bypassed names of her brethren. Kara was already at a disadvantage as it is, to have an opponent that could read her body language would just be a nail in her already closing coffin.

“How do you even say that name?” She squinted at the letters, mouth contorting with the odd letters.

“Mxyzptlk! At your service.”

Kara jumped, shouting at the instruction and the sudden jarring of her shoulder. Behind her bowed a man of short stature. A curly, dark mop hair of bounced as he stood. His grin was too wide and eyes mischievous as he held out a friendly hand. Kara took it into a firm shake.

That was a big mistake.

“Excuse me?”

“I believe you are Sir Danvers? I say, you are quite the stunner.” A squeeze around her fingers.

Kara cleared her throat, oddly offend by the compliment. “So you’re my match, then?” She tried to pull her hand back, but the man wouldn’t budge.

“On the battle field and-” he leant in, pulling Kara closer but she just lent away, “anywhere else you want me.”

Kara grimaced, yanking her hand out of his grip and already waving the him off. “No, thank you. Work and play shouldn’t mix.”

He chuckled, hands clasped behind his back now. “My offer will always stand for one as beautiful as you.”

“I don’t think you understand, good Sir.” Kara stood straighter, a hand falling to her sword handle. “I am spoken for.”

His eyes darted to the cloth around her sleeve, the red reflecting in brown irises. He smirked, “a favour is hardly a proposal, Sir Danvers.”

“I am not a cheater, Sir Maxitlic-”

“Mxyzptlk. Go on.”

Kara bit her sharp tongue, a retort rancid at the back of her throat. She had more decorum than that, however. “As I was saying, Sir Mx- I don’t really care, I am no cheater; not on the field and not in the bedroom. Now I must take my leave, I’ll see you on the dirt.”

She turned heel, ponytail whipping about her face, and strutted off. She left a red faced, slack jawed imp behind.

 

--

 

Her blade sung through the air, her right wrist loose as Kara made a few practise swings. It was a little past midday, the heatt beating down on the dirt as she walked the line of the arena. Mxyzptlk was doing the same- the weapon slicing the air as he paced.

Kara watched him from the side of her eye, taking in the way he walked and how his torso moved. To her knowledge, this was her opponent’s first event of the day. That meant two things:

  1. There was an unlikely chance of him having any injury.
  2. He would have more energy reserved than she did.

Kara sheathed her weapon, the blade hanging from her belt. She fought the urge to loosen her shoulder. It pained with dull anger, but it was definitely much better than this morning. Kara chanced a glance at the crowd, looking for the tell tale sing of red hair but not finding it. Alex must have left.

Kara deflated a little. Her eyes roamed up to the royal box, brows furrowing further when she only found a worried Lena and no Prince. She didn’t get time to ponder, however, for the announcer cleared his throat and began to speak.

“It is time for the Short Sword Round Robin to start!” The audience cheered, voice melding into a wall of sound. Kara smiled, waving at the crowd (she caught Lena’s small wave back). “The rules are simple- stay within the bounds, no death and no foul play. There will be four matches on at once in the interest of daylight.

“Each match will take place in their respective, marked off, ‘battlegrounds.’”

Kara looked at the white sand line drawn on the thin grass. The field wasn’t that large, meaning that Sir Mxyzptlk would be up in her space without any place to run to.

“At the drop of the cloth,” her held a white fabric above his head, “the matches begin. Good luck to all!”

The crowd broke into boisterous cheer and Kara flipped down her visor. The announcer raised his hand further and silence descended, everyone waiting with bated breath and beady eyes.

Without flourish, the announcer opened his hand and the cloth was freed. Kara drew her weapon, shield coming up to defend as she stalked forward. Sir Mxyzptlk gleamed in matte black leather armour. The set looked new, the animal hide hardly creased.

 Kara looked forward to making her mark.

The shorter man darted forward, his feet heavy on the earth. Kara brought up her shield and met his strike with a loud clang. She returned the pass with a swipe of her own, the blade whistling just shy of curly hair.

Like a brazen idiot, Mxyzptlk had chosen not to wear a helmet. Sure, that meant he could see more, but almost any hit above the shoulders would be fatal. He was flaunting a massive weakness and Kara wanted to extort it.

Mxy went for a jab, his movement telegraphed through the backshift of his shoulders. Kara read the action like a second language, her sword already incepting the steel- the edges biting into each other as she cut towards Mxy’s hand guard. He jumped back, but Kara pushed forward.

Her larger frame putting momentum behind her weight, saving her shoulder just a little as she shoved into the retreating man. Mxy stumbled, his back-foot landing awkwardly.

Kara didn’t let up, she swung, blade slashing into leather and scoring an unmarred surface. This time Mxy leapt back successfully, his ire clearly showing with a frown.

Kara grinned, cycling her blade in show as she waited for him to make a move. She watched him stand up straight, his legs drawing together as his arms fell to his side.

Confusion flittered across her face.

“What in Hestest’s name are you doing?”

“I forfeit!”

Kara yanked off her helmet, sword falling to her side. What in the ever living fu-

“And we have our first winner! Sir Danvers will be fighting in round two!”

With that, Kara was ushered off the area, her mind still trying to piece together what exactly happened. Who in Rime’s rule forfeits a tournament match? Especially when it had hardly begun? Kara turned to look back, but the knight was nowhere to be found.

 

--

 

“What was wrong with that guy?”

“I have no idea, James. One minute I’m cutting into his armour, the next he quits! I swear.”

“Oh, they’re calling for the next round. Good luck out there.”

“Thanks mate, lets hope I don’t need it.”

 

--

 

Her next opponent couldn’t be more different. Where Kara was lean, he was broad. A brute of a giant in mismatched leather and fur. He was so big, in fact, that the sword in his grip would have fit the function of a toothpick better than a weapon.

Kara gulped, nervous sweat already pricking at the back of her neck. She drew her sword, the brute drew his and they stood ten paces apart. At the behest of the announcer, they watched him raise the cloth above his head, wait a beat and then dropped it with gravitas.

Kara snapped to action. Size often meant one thing: slowness. It made sense that bigger bodies took longer to move, but on Rime’s name Kara couldn’t afford to be hit by a man this size. One swing and her head would be clean off.

She evaded a thrust, darting under the high blade and coming in close to her opponent. She was a little too close, being only able to utilise the handle. She smashed the pommel into the exposed under armour at the inside elbow of the man’s sword arm.

Kara caught his grunt as she dashed away just in time to dodge a savage shove of his shield. She backed up even further, twirling the sword and ducking a little lower behind her shield. The brute whacked his sword against his shield in a taunt.

Kara laughed, shaking her head and waiting.

One breath, two breaths.  There.

The brute took a step forward, body large, intimidating, clumsy. Kara swore that the earth shook with each magnanimous step. She hunkered down further, muscles coiling in crouching legs. The brute made to take another step and-

SLASH

Kara used his unstable gait to her advantage. She cut, deep and true, on the inner thigh of his right leg. The man screamed, blood quickly seeping from under leather- pearling like forbidden rubies before swelling and weeping into the sand.

With a roar, the brute charged. Kara rolled out of the way, the movement clumsy with her stupid shoulder. She grunted, dashing again as the man struck where she had just been. Earth plumed with the impact, the sword cutting into the ground and holding fast.

Kara took the chance. With her shield, she bashed the man’s weapon hand until his fingers let go. Once disarmed, he took a step back but Kara caught his foot, tripping him with a hard kick. He fell with an ugly scream, leg still weeping and hand black and blue.

Kara was quick to press a foot to his chest, blade pointed at an exposed throat.

“Do you yield?”

He swiped with his shield but Kara slipped back before cutting into his forearm. He screamed again.

“I will ask again, do you yield?

He ripped off his helmet, revealing his blotched and sweat soaked face.

“Fight me, whore!”

Kara flicked her wrist, cutting into his cheek. He howled. “I did and now look were we are.” She chuckled, the sound dark and harsh, “your tongue is next, good sir. Now, do you yield?”

He spat at her, the disgusting bloody mucus splattering against her helmet. Kara grimaced.

“I yield, bitch.”

“Good, now get off my turf, you sad excuse of a knight.”

 

--

 

Kara splashed water on her face, wiping away sweat with a rag. One more fight, that was all. Then the mock battle and she was done. She shook her left arm, wincing at the flaring joint.

Dipping a cloth in the basin, she put the cool material to the back of her neck with a sigh. It was nice to be out of the sun for a few minutes. The quiet didn’t last long, for as soon as she sat down, the tent flaps were dramatically thrown open.

“Kara, I’m begging you to stop now.”

Kara shot up and out of her chair, “Lena? What’s the meaning of this?”

The Lady charged forward, hands already smoothing loose hairs and tracing strong cheek bones. “You need to forfeit the next match- I’ve been a fool.”

Kara grabbed errant hands, cupping them in her too warm palms. “Whatever do you mean?”

“It’s the Prince, he-”

“Sir Danvers! Time to fight!” The announcer ducked his head in, cutting Lena off and forcing them to jump apart. He looked blankly between them, brow raised with impatience.

“Alright, I’m coming.” Kara nodded. “Lady Luthor.” Kara farewelled with a short bow.

“Sir Danvers.” Lena turned in kind, worry written all over her face.

 

--

 

Kara dug a heel into upturned grass, shaking her feet and loosening her body. It was the last round now- she was so close to winning Kara could practically taste it. After Lena’s warning, she had scanned the crowd with scrutinising eyes. She found Alex sitting near the front with a chicken leg in each hand, chin smeared with it’s basting.

The royal party and Lena had moved to the front row for this match. The sun was weak enough to not be a bother now and yet Kara could still not spot the Prince himself. He had been gone for some time and that very fact was making Kara nervous.

Blasted announcer for interrupting them.

With one last twist, Kara drew her sword and readied her shield. Her body settled into a fighting stance, legs bouncing and gravity rooted in her core. Kara hadn’t had an opportunity to check the board prior to the match, and thus she had no idea who she was facing.

Her opponent walked onto the battleground- helmet already affixed and leather armour thick and well taken care off. Kara didn’t like the look of that.

They stood on either side, body’s still and weapons winking in the sun. Kara twirled her blade, growing antsy as she waited for the announcer to, well… announce.

As if reading the room, the stout man gathered everyone’s attention, waved the cloth and all but threw it into the air. Kara ran forward, sword pointed out and braced at her waist. The man stepped out of her way at the last second, his own sword coming down and just cutting the leather on her back.

Kara locked her jaw, pivoting and brandishing her blade in a wide arc. The bastard jumped back, his shield stopping the swipe but leaving his flank open. Kara shoulder charged, her left shoulder smashing into an exposed chest. She wheezed with the sudden pain but ignored it in favour of shuffling out of close quarters.

Taking in her opponent’s breathing pattern, it appeared that she knocked the wind out of him. With a smirk, Kara crouched down a little further, back curving just a little as she watched the man readjust his hold.

In a blink, he charged. His weapon so sharp it sang before sinking into her hardened leather shield. Kara shouted, watching a chunk fly off and land in the dirt. She rolled under a second swing, thrusting her blade out and nipping the strap of his shoulder guard. The armour flipped, flapping with movement as the knight grabbed the useless piece and tore it off.

Kara smiled, happy that she exposed a weakness she could exploit.

With shield in front, Kara charge forward at full pelt. The knight couldn’t get out the way fast enough- instead taking the full force of Kara’s body into his chest. He stumbled, shifting to the side and tripping Kara as she fell.

Kara rolled into a land, shield ruined further and pushing against her forearm. She didn’t get time to fiddle with it. Her ears picked up the ring before she saw the blade. On pure instinct alone Kara parried, a grunt ripping from her throat as she pushed forward again.

She kneed the man in the groin, taking special pleasure in his whine. He did not take kindly. He back handed her with his shield, Kara’s head whipping to the side with a crack, her helmet dulling the pain but doing little for the impact.

She kneed him again, just missing her target but instead hitting between the groin and the hip. He stumbled back, sword striking out and cutting into Kara’s vambrace.

Kara shouted, the lick of steel in flesh both uncomfortable and terrible. She punched with her sword hand, pommel catching his chin and dislodging his helmet. Kara punched again, the leather flying clean off and revealing-

The Prince.

Kara back peddled so fast, heart racing and jumping against her ribs. The Prince spat blood into the grass, red dribbling down his chin.

“What’s the meaning of this!” Kara shouted at the man, voice deep and hoarse. She looked to the stands, waiting for a response. Lena’s face was pale beyond belief.

“I’ve come to collect my favour.”

Kara’s gaze snapped back to the Prince. The red cloth on her sleeve burning with implication. “This favour is mine.”

The Prince chuckled darkly, shaking his head as if talking to a child. “Disillusion runs rampant in your mind, Sir Danvers. She belongs to me and is therefore mine.

Kara snarled, weapon raising once again. The crowd gasped, hushed whispers like ghosts filled the air. Both Kings rose from their viewing thrones but said nothing.

“Put down your weapon, this fight is over. Return the handkerchief, that is an order.”

Kara scoffed, sheathing her sword and relishing in the smirk on the Prince’s stupid face. She undid the clasps of her shield, watching it fall to the floor. Her wounds pained now, the adrenaline doing nought to keep them in check and yet still, Kara took off a leather gauntlet, her sword arm now bare.

The Prince’s face fell as Kara threw the piece of armour between them.

“I, Sir Kara of House Danvers, challenge you, Prince Mon-El of Daxam, to a duel for Lady Lena of Luthor’s hand in marriage.”

The crowd broke into aghast cheers, gossip sweeping through the stands like a wave. Alex jumped from her seat, vaulting over the fence and stopping at the side of the arena. She kept looking between a blushing Lena and her. Kara could practically see the moment when it clicked. She didn’t have time to laugh- there was more important matters to attend to.

“Your decision, your Highness?”

“You give me no choice, Sir Danvers. My honour has been called into question and thus I must defend it. A fight to the death it is.”

Kara smirked behind her helmet, pulling it off and taking a deep breath of fresh air. Her eyes took a second to adjust but she pulled her sword from her belt all the same. The announcer scurried from the stands to take his place between the duelling pair. They both took five paces away from each other. Their weapons drawn, shields discarded, and faces set with determination.

“On your marks!”

The leather handle creaked in her fist.

“Get set!”

She crouched a little further, muscles coiling.

“GO!”

They both bounded forward, swords raised and dignity on the line. The Prince yell, his strike wide and open. Kara ducked, shoving into his body and hooking a leg behind his knee. As he fell, he grabbed Kara’s collar, bring her down as well.

In an attempt to save herself, she flipped them both and landed with her feet on his chest. There was a resounding crack and give. The man screamed bloody murder, sword coming up so fast that Kara stupidly blocked with her arm.

Her bare arm.

The sword cut so deep it took a second for her body to realise it needed to bleed. She faintly recognised her name being called, but the Prince already shoved her off. She fell in a pained heap as he stood up with wheezing breath. Writhing, Kara swiped at the Prince’s feet, cutting a gasp into his ankle.

Murder fell from his lips as his hand came down hard. Kara rolled just in time, the blade catching her ponytail and cutting a sizable chunk of blonde off. He made to grab her, but Kara was quick. She swiped into a forward slash, grating against the Prince’s sword and jumping off his hand guard.

He followed with a punch. The solid fist connected with Kara’s left shoulder- the joint popping audibly. Kara pummelled him across the face, curses a new language on her tongue. His lip busted like a summer berry, his nose broke and he stumbled back into a fighting stance.

Her arm hung uselessly at her side, and yet Kara didn’t give up. She was feeling sluggish now, the injuries taking a toll on a worn-out body. The Prince didn’t look much better.

He jabbed forward, Kara slipping to the side but his blade still caught her sleeve, ripping the fabric and cutting straight through red cloth.

The both watched the favour fall to the floor, the material ruined and torn.

Rage like nothing she felt before raced through her veins. She charged, sword moving faster than the Prince could block. Cuts, both light and deep, ate at his flesh. Each flash of metal revealed royal skin beneath, but Kara kept going. She smashed his sword out of his hand, the weapon flying and stabbing into the ground.

Yet Kara kept going, vision blurring with red, red, red. The pathetic excuse for a man brought his hands up to defend himself but Kara cut his palms. He opened his mouth but Kara cut his lips. She wore on his body so brutally that eventually he was forced to kneel, to bend, to bow.

It was only then that Kara stilled. Manic energy ignited all around her, the kingdom was a silent witness for the events to come.

“Prince Mon-El of Daxam,” Kara wheezed, breath short and laboured, “do you yield?”

The Prince looked up with defiant eyes. “No. Kill me.”

Kara nodded, arm raising high above her head for execution.

“Last chance. Your Highness, do you yield?”

“I’d sooner die.”

“Then so be it.”

Kara brought her hand down, the blade cutting thorough air, it’s edge damaged and slightly dull.

“WAIT!”

The blade stopped just before it hit skin. The Prince sagged, head bowed and tears rolling. Kara looked to the stands, body quickly bowing as the King of Krypton stood.

“I have seen enough here today,” he started, voice booming and commanding, “to come to a conclusion for the future relationship between Krypton and Daxam.”

Kara’s brows raised, her arm falling to her side.

“I have made the decision to nullify the engagement between Prince Mon-El of Daxam and Lady Lena of Luthor based on the basis of honour, decorum and common sense. Sir Danvers, let the boy live.”

Kara bowed at the command, the crowd failing in raucous uproar. The movement proved to be too much, for her knee buckled and her vision blackened. Alex caught her before she could hit the ground.

 

--

 

Lucidity was a fleeting friend. Every time Kara awoke, it was to the familiar room of the barracks infirmary. The only inconsistency to the routine was which visitor she would wake up to. Alex had been the first. She looked haggard beyond belief and the nurse had to escort her out after she whacked Kara in the chest. The knight hadn’t seen her sister since.

The next was Lena. The Lady stood by her bedside, a warm hand thumbing over her black and bruised knuckles. Kara would smile, but the gesture would be met with a frown and lecture on stupidity.

(She was always rewarded with a kiss, however. So, Kara knew everything was going to be alright).

Winn and James popped in an out, often bearing some kind of treat or a story. The last visitor she had was the jeweller. He walked in with his solemn air, back straight and nose high. On her bedside table he deposited a velvet box, nodded, and then left without a word.

Kara took special care to hide the box in the bedside cupboard.

 

--

 

Recovery was slow. Her skin would be marred for life, but whenever asked Kara would just say she would do it over and over again. Now she sat side by side with her Lady fair. Summer was in full swing and the orchard was bursting at the seams with fruit. Lena had wanted a picknick, so Kara had obliged. She wore her finest tunic and fitted pants, packed a basket of breads, cheeses and a paring knife for the fruit they would pick. A bottle of wine sat finished between them.

“Remember when I said that Mother wrote me a letter?”

Kara thought back, recalling the information from months ago. “Vaguely, why?”

Lena pulled a folded note from her dress pocket, the parchment thin and delicate. “Well, I eventually found it hidden in a book she gave me as a birthday gift.”

Kara scooted closer, looking over her shoulder as long fingers opened up the letter. “What does it say.”

Lena waved her off, “The usual manner of things. ‘Happy Birthday,’ etcetera, etcetera, but the last paragraph really threw me for a loop.”

“Oh?”

“It says, “thank you for trusting me with your truth. Now we just need to knock some sense into my daughter and maybe then we can be one big happy f-family.” Lena choked up, hands quickly folding the letter as to not damage it. “Your mother was bloody trying to set us up.”

Kara laughed, a hand slapping her thigh a she placed happy kisses to salty cheeks. “If only she could see us now.” Kara sighed, her hand snaking into her pocket and retrieving something stowed.

Lena turned to return the kiss, but Kara stood before she could do so. The Lady furrowed her brows, pouting at the denial. Kara stood with her hands behind her back, feet together and a slightly anxious smile pulled across full lips. Lena tilted her head, confusion written in ink across her forehead. Her eyes darted between the nervous stance, the letter in her hand and the sheepish yet love struck look across Kara’s face.

Her eyes widened and jaw slackened. “Kara, show me what’s behind your back.”

Her hands stayed put, smile turning cheeky. “Lena, I’ve known you for almost as long as I’ve known myself. We’ve been through all manner of situations together and, honestly, I don’t think I would have made it this far without you. You’re the most brilliant person I have ever known, Lady Luthor.”

Kara brought her hand in front, fist opening to reveal a slightly rough looking gold ring. Lena gasped and Kara got down on one knee.

“Yes!”

“I haven’t even asked yet.”

Lena grabbed her hands, sealing her mouth with a kiss. “Then ask me, you fool.”

“Lena, will you marry me?”